BAE Systems is working on a new unmanned aircraft which has the potential to fly for up to a year before needing maintenance
It has come a step closer to reality after a new agreement between BAE Systems and British firm Prismatic.
Engineers will collaborate on the development of the new solar powered high altitude, long endurance (HALE) UAV known as PHASA-35, with work under way for flight tests in 2019.
The drone would offer a year-round, low cost persistent service for a wide range of needs including surveillance and communications to remote areas, using only the sun to power the aircraft during the day and recharge the batteries for overnight use.
The 35m wingspan 150kg drone would be significantly cheaper than conventional satellite technology using proven, long life battery technology and ultra-lightweight solar cells to potentially maintain flight for up to 12 months.
Paul Brooks, Founder and Managing Director of Prismatic Ltd, said: “PHASA-35™ has the ability to revolutionise the way we think about Beyond Line of Sight communications. It’s great to have the support of a world leading technology company like BAE Systems.
"I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the team who have worked tirelessly over the past two years to develop PHASA-35™ as a proven, cost effective and reliable system.”
Michael Christie, Strategy Director within BAE Systems’ Air sector, said: “Prismatic is a fast paced and forward thinking company and PHASA-35™ is a great example of what the team can achieve in a short space of time. We were keen to invest in the programme as part of our long term strategy to explore new technologies and solutions in air and space.
"I look forward to working with the team and I’m sure the collaboration will add further strength to both ourselves and Prismatic.”
BAE Systems will invest in the development and flight testing of the PHASA-35 system as part of its drive to continually develop new technologies to support aircraft of the future, working collaboratively with SMEs and academia.