BAE to develop unmanned craft that will stay airborne for a year

BAE Systems has agreed a deal Prismatic which will see the two join forces to develop an unmanned aerial vehicle capable of remaining airborne for a full year before requiring maintenance.

PHASA-35 Signing

The BAE Systems site in Warton has historically been a key player in UAV development, and now engineers will collaborate with Prismatic on the development of the solar powered High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV known as PHASA-35.

Work is already underway to prepare the first aircraft to be ready for flight tests in 2019.

Uses for the aircraft include surveillance communications in remote areas, requiring only the sun to power the aircraft during the day and recharging the batteries for overnight operation.

Solar HALE vehicles are a significantly cheaper alternative to conventional satellite technology, with PHASA-35 (standing for Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft), being a concept solar electric UAV that uses long life battery technology and ultra-lightweight solar cells to potentially maintain flight for up to 12 months.

A quarter scale model (named PHASE-8™) completed a successful maiden flight in 2017, with Prismatic Ltd and BAE Systems now looking to take the technology a step further.

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. BAE Systems has a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2000 inventions internationally, and under the agreement with Prismatic, it will provide expertise in aerospace technology and project management to progress the PHASA-35™ programme through to a marketable offering.