A new solar electric unmanned aerial vehicle, which has the potential to fly for up to a year before needing maintenance, has become a step closer to reality following a new agreement between two cutting-edge British companies, BAE Systems and Prismatic.

According to the firm, engineers from Prismatic and BAE Systems will collaborate on the development of the new solar powered High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV known as PHASA-35™, with work already underway to prepare the first aircraft to be ready for flight tests in 2019.

The technology would offer a year-round, low cost persistent 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.

“Solar HALE vehicles offer 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 proven, long life battery technology and ultra-lightweight solar cells to potentially maintain flight for up to 12 months.

The PHASA-35™ concept has a 35-metre wingspan and weighs just 150kg – its lightweight, efficient build allows it to fly at high altitudes for long periods of time. 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.”

Paul Brooks, Founder and Managing Director of Prismatic Ltd, said:

“PHASA-35™ has the ability to revolutionise the way we think about Beyond Line of Sight communications.   It’s great to have the support of a world leading technology company like BAE Systems.  I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the team who have worked tirelessly over the past two years to develop PHASA-35™ as a proven, cost effective and reliable system.”

Michael Christie, Strategy Director within BAE Systems’ Air sector, said:

“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.”

12 COMMENTS

    • Maybe the Franco-Germans will try to kill off our technology and steal it for themselves if history is anything to go by. Very sad to say that but they are unable to see UK can be outside the EU and yet still a close ally. Talk coming out of Paris, Berlin and Brussels is not encouraging.
      No one is dumber than the UK Government led techno- strategists. They must be getting backhanders; nothing else can explain why we continue to sell our best tech ideas and companies.

      • Considering commie toffs were willing to sell us out to the truly evil Soviet Union, just imagine how many Europhiles there are that would be happy to betray Britain for Brussels.

      • It’s been going on for a (very long) time. So we, Europeans, buy your tech advances and best and brightest ideas at a very slow pace.

      • Nice. So no contact. I thought someone was going to say air bearings like those used on some air con compressor/turbine assembly, but I didnt know about magnetic bearings (had to look it up). So whats the maintenance; just an on condition check and oils?

  1. Does anyone know how UAVs like this and Zephyr are lauched and recovered? The airframe doesn’t look strong enough or large enough to support an undercarriage. I imagine weight of UC would be an issue too.

  2. It’s almost like a cheap low altitude satelite. If it’s up there for a year then how much better could it be if it wasn’t also designed to get up there by itself in the first place or even get down again? Perhaps a forced air bladeless fan would be good enough instead of a rotary motor and that would increase the life even more or make it able to carry a big camera.

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