The US Project of a Solar-Powered UAV with Continuous One-Year Flight Capability

PHASA-35 is a solar-powered drone development project by defense and aerospace contractor BAE Systems, funded by the US Army’s Space and Missile Defense Command Technical Center.

Vehicles use energy from sunlight to fly in the air, charge a small battery pack during the day to fly at night, allowing longer operation, which can be continuous for 1 year.

PHASA-35 solar drone. Photo: TechEBlog 

PHASA-35 solar drone. Photo: TechEBlog

With a wingspan of 35m, a weight of 150kg and a carrying capacity of 15kg, the solar electric aircraft consists of high-grade composite materials, an energy management system, photovoltaic cells, photovoltaic panels and rechargeable batteries. The vehicle’s flight speed is not very fast, only about 0.3m/s, but it can operate in the stratosphere, unaffected by rain, wind and commercial aircraft, thereby providing a stable view of an area for a long time.

The vehicle’s key applications are intelligence gathering, military reconnaissance, and rescue assistance. In addition to sensors, the aircraft can also be used as part of a communication network, covering 4G or 5G and many other forms of data transmission in the event of a disaster, supporting border patrol, replacing conventional satellite systems in commercial applications.

Most recently, during a 24-hour test flight at the White Sands test ground in the US state of New Mexico, BAE Systems successfully brought this solar-powered aircraft to the stratosphere, reaching an altitude of 20,000m.

BAE Systems says the model will be commercially available by the middle of the decade.

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