A new solar electric unmanned aerial vehicle, which has the potential to fly for up to a year, has taken a leap closer to reality following a new agreement between BAE Systems and Prismatic.
Engineers from the two organisations will collaborate on the development of the new solar-powered high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV, known as PHASA-35, and are working to prepare their first aircraft for flight tests in 2019.
The technology is being designed to offer a year-round service for a wide range of needs, including surveillance and vital communications to remote areas, using only the sun to power the aircraft during the day and recharge the batteries for overnight operation.
Prismatic claims solar HALE vehicles offer a ‘significantly’ cheaper alternative to conventional satellite technology, with PHASA-35, which stands for persistent high altitude solar aircraft.
The PHASA-35 concept has a 35-metre wingspan and weighs 150kg, which allows it to fly at high altitudes for long periods of time.
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.
Michael Christie, strategy director at BAE Systems’ Air sector, commented: “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 has a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2,000 inventions internationally.