Unmanned Vehicles

PHASA-35 flies in Australia

18th February 2020 - 10:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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The solar-electric Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft (PHASA-35) has completed its first flight, BAE Systems announced on 17 February.

Designed to operate unmanned in the stratosphere above the weather and conventional air traffic, PHASA-35 has the potential to stay airborne for up to a year at a time.

With a 35m wingspan, the aircraft has been designed and built as part of a collaboration between BAE Systems and Prismatic. Sponsored by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and Australian Defence Science and Technology Group, the flight trials took place at the Royal Australian Air Force Woomera Test Range in South Australia. 

As a high altitude long endurance vehicle, PHASA-35 is powered by the sun during the day and by batteries overnight. The aircraft is designed to provide a persistent, stable platform for monitoring, surveillance, communications and security applications. When connected to other technologies and assets, it will provide both military and commercial customers with capabilities that are not currently available from existing air and space platforms. The UAS also has the potential to be used in the delivery of communications networks including 5G, as well as provide other services, such as disaster relief and border protection. 

Further flight trials are scheduled for later in 2020, with the possibility that the aircraft could enter initial operations with customers within 12 months of the flight trials programme completion.

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