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BAE’s Solar Powered UAV Makes First Flight

Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft (PHASA-35®) has the potential to stay airborne for a year.

BAE Systems’ PHASA-35, a 35m wingspan solar-electric aircraft, has completed its maiden flight. The UAV opens a new gate to a yearlong flight endurance plugging the gap between aviation and satellite technology.   

Sponsored by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), the successful flight trials took place at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Woomera Test Range in South Australia.

As a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) vehicle, PHASA-35 is powered by the Sun during the day and by batteries overnight. The long-life battery and highly efficient solar technology could allow the aircraft to maintain flight for up to a year operating in the stratosphere, the upper regions of the Earth’s atmosphere.

PHASA-35 is designed to be a platform for monitoring, surveillance, communications and security applications. 

PHASA-35 has been designed, built and now flown in less than two years as part of a collaboration between BAE Systems and Prismatic Ltd.

Designed to operate unmanned in the stratosphere, above the weather and conventional air traffic, PHASA-35 offers a persistent flight. The company believes it is an affordable alternative to satellites combined with the flexibility of an aircraft.

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