A Joint Forces Command High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite Operational Concept Demonstrator aircraft has surpassed the world flight endurance record without refuelling…

The Zephyr-S operates in the stratosphere at an average altitude of 70,000 feet and could support a wide range of applications, including land and maritime surveillance, and a variety of communication tasks.

It runs exclusively on solar power, flying above the weather and conventional air traffic; filling a capability gap complimentary to satellites, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) and manned aircraft to provide persistent local satellite-like services.

The ultra-lightweight UAV, made by Airbus, began its maiden flight in Arizona, USA, on 11 July 2018 and touched down on 6 August 2018.

It was airborne for 25 days, 23 hours, 57 minutes, easily surpassing the old record of 14 days, 22 minutes and eight seconds, which was set by a previous version of the Zephyr UAV. As a result, an application has been made to establish this as a new world record.

Working to Joint Forces Command, the Defence Equipment and Support Technology Office is delivering the OCD to improve MOD’s understanding of how the innovative and cutting-edge technologies employed in a HAPS capability might be utilised to deliver operational effect to inform future acquisition projects.

The OCD contract with Airbus was signed in 2016 and includes the purchase of three Zephyr-S platforms, with further flight trials planned for the coming months.

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