BAE Systems has reached an agreement to acquire British company, Prismatic Ltd, as the companies work to further develop the UAV technology.
The two companies is already collaborating on the development of the new solar powered High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned air vehicle (UAV) known as PHASA-35. The PHASA-35 has a potential to transform the Air and Space market as its offers a more affordable alternative to conventional satellite technology.
Since an initial collaboration between the two companies was announced in May 2018, engineers have been working at pace to develop two 35-metre solar-powered UAV prototypes, various sensor payloads and operational concepts. In just 15 months, the team has delivered two full-scale prototype aircraft, which are now undergoing integration testing at BAE Systems’ Warton facility in Lancashire in preparation for flight trials planned for early next year.
As a HALE vehicle, the PHASA-35 (standing for Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft) is powered by the Sun during the day and by batteries overnight. The long-life battery and highly efficient solar technology allows the aircraft to potentially maintain flight for up to a year, operating in the upper regions of the Earth’s atmosphere.
The prototype PHASA-35 has a 35-metre wingspan and weighs just 150kg, including a 15kg payload.
PHASA-35, when connected to other technologies and assets, will provide both military and commercial customers with capabilities that are not currently available from existing air and space platforms. The UAV has the potential to be used in the delivery of 5G networks, as well as provide other services, such as persistent surveillance, disaster relief and border protection, at a fraction of the cost of satellites.