QinetiQ’s Zephyr High-Altitude Long-Endurance unmanned aerial system (HALE UAS) program recently resumed flight testing and payload evaluations in Arizona.
QinetiQ’s Zephyr High-Altitude Long-Endurance unmanned aerial system (HALE UAS) program recently resumed flight testing and payload evaluations in Arizona.

 

The latest test sequence focused on evaluating potential payloads as well as advancing the concept of operations (conops) for operating long-endurance aircraft for in excess of five days.

The QinetiQ Zephyr concept is designed to offer solar-powered, persistent coverage with continuous mission durations of up to three months at a revolutionary low-cost per flight-hour. Capable of carrying a variety of payloads, the applications of the hand-launched system include wide area surveillance, communications relay, specific target monitoring, anti-piracy efforts, route monitoring, counter-IED, border security, and local area security.

The ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber Zephyr weighs less than 100 lb (45 kg), yet has a wingspan of up to 75 ft (23 m). The Zephyr is solar-powered during the day, using paper-thin United Solar Ovonic amorphous silicon arrays that cover the aircraft’s wings. At night it is powered by lithium-sulfur batteries, supplied by SION Power Corporation, which are recharged during the day using solar power.

The US Army’s Yuma proving ground in Arizona was the site of Zephyr’s world-beating three-and-a-half day flight in July 2008 – the fourth of a series of flight trials that have been flown in the US since 2005.