BAE Systems engineers see high-flying drone pass latest test

Lancashire aircraft engineers working on a solar powered long endurance drone have seen the project take another step forward.

Saturday, 10th October 2020, 12:30 pm

BAE Systems staff are working with Prismatic and the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory on PHASA-35 a high-flying unmanned aircraft which has a wide range of uses and stay aloft for a year.

The 35 metre wingspan solar-electric aircraft has now undergone critical endurance trials which saw the aircraft operate for 72 hours in a simulated environment that models the harsh stratospheric conditions in which the aircraft is designed to operate.

It did it while carrying a communications sensor payload; a radio frequency sensing software defined radio that provides a real-time and secure data link. The high altitude aircraft can act as an eye in the sky or even provide local mobile phone coverage for remote areas.

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The PHASA-35 unmanned aircraft

Ian Muldowney, chief operating Officer, BAE Systems Air, said: “PHASA-35 is a great example of how we’ve brought together the best in British expertise and partnered to drive technological innovation and deliver critical capability.

"This latest success, only eight months after PHASA-35’s maiden flight, further demonstrates how UK industry and our partners are accelerating pace to deliver the UK’s vision for innovation, a Future Combat Air System and information advantage.”

Paul Brooks, managing director of Prismatic, said: “I am extremely proud of the efforts the team have put into making these trials a success and to do this despite the challenges that a global pandemic has brought to us all.

"By taking the best from the large company experience that BAE Systems offers, together with the agility of a small, innovative company such as Prismatic, we’ve been able to drive the programme forward with continued pace, culminating in the seamless integration of this first payload. This is an important milestone in bringing PHASA-35 closer to market, working alongside DSTL in the process.”

The aircraft could enter operations with customers within 12 months of completion of its flight trials.