UAV to Stay Aloft for 5 Years


Boeing plans to build a solar powered UAV capable of 5 years sustained flight challenging conventional notions about what goes up…

"Boeing has won an $89 million government contract to build and fly an unmanned solar-powered plane that can--eventually--stay aloft continuously for up to five years. Yes, that's five years.

The defense contractor will develop the SolarEagle aircraft for the Vulture II program run by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as DARPA. Scheduled to get off the ground for its first demo flight in 2014, the plane will likely serve as an electronic sensor and military communications platform. But it could eventually turn into a less expensive alternative to communications and reconnaissance satellites."

Although, I understand the DIY Drones community is already working on something much cooler:

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  • Moderator
    I was just going to ask that myself Chris, it don't look much like the thing at Farnborough Ad so is that just a way out there pic for the press??

  • T3
    And the small droplets at ends of the wing? Ion thrusters ;-) ?
  • Moderator
    Thats code for no idea isn't it Ad?
  • They're tail surfaces. There's some aerodynamic excellence involved.
  • Moderator
    Well you would'nt want to have flown it to Boeings 31 day first target and Farnborough 2014 would be a cracking time to make that happen for the one your making for them ;-) Whats with the funky Z's at the end of the wing, in this image. Are they a concept version of the Klingon design that you shamelessly nicked there?
  • Frankly two weeks got a bit dull.......
  • T3
    "need to lift 1000lbs for 5 years at Boeing"
    Strategic nuclear deterrence platform. Codename Eternal Peacebringer.
  • Moderator
    Its certainly a market where sensors are coming to it, in that they are getting lighter. So I wonder why they need to lift 1000lbs for 5 years at Boeing, that's a heck of an ask. I also wonder how many sensor packages would keep going for 5 years. I guess you throw it all away after 5 years as its out of date. You would not need many aircraft circling at 70,000' to cover one heck of an area.
  • T3
    This year the idea of flying delicate aircraft in thin air is very popular.
    At present I would classify the project as HAUL: High Altitude Unknown Endurance.
  • Moderator
    Oh it has a chance of working then.
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