Table of contents
- Persistent High Altitude Surveillance
- Advanced Solar Aircraft Technology
- A Versatile Aerial Platform
The PHASA-35 is an innovative new solar-powered drone developed by BAE Systems. With a 115 foot wingspan, this uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) can carry payloads up to 33 lbs and fly continuously at high altitudes for up to a year. The recent successful test flight up to an altitude of 66,000 feet over New Mexico marks an important milestone in the development of this advanced pseudo-satellite.
Persistent High Altitude Surveillance
Unlike conventional drones that need to land frequently to refuel, the PHASA-35 is designed to stay aloft for extremely long durations. Powered by sunlight during the day, the energy is stored in batteries to keep it flying through the night. This enables persistent surveillance or communications coverage over an area of interest without interruption. The high-flying PHASA-35 operates above conventional air traffic, weather effects, and detection. This makes it ideal for military intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) missions.
The onboard sensor and communications payload is housed in a dedicated pod separate from the aircraft systems. This allows the PHASA-35 to carry a wide range of modular payloads that can be swapped out easily. It provides a stable aerial platform for monitoring, surveillance, communications and other applications unmatched by satellites or manned aircraft.
Advanced Solar Aircraft Technology
To achieve ultra-long endurance flight, the PHASA-35 utilizes a number of advanced technologies. The entire airframe uses lightweight composite materials to minimize weight. The large 115 foot wingspan provides excellent soaring capabilities using minimal power.
The solar-electric propulsion system is powered by photovoltaic arrays spread across the upper wing surface. These high efficiency cells collect solar energy throughout the day, charging up the onboard batteries. The batteries and power management systems are optimized for extremely lightweight and efficient operation.
By leveraging solar energy, the PHASA-35 can fly continuously without dependence on limited onboard fuel. This gives it virtually unlimited endurance compared to conventional aviation technology. The innovative design provides persistent presence for both military and civilian applications at a fraction of the cost of satellites.
A Versatile Aerial Platform
With its long endurance flight at stratospheric altitudes, the PHASA-35 fills a niche not achievable by other aerial systems. It provides capabilities beyond what satellites or manned aircraft can deliver persistently and cost-effectively.
In addition to being a highly flexible ISR asset, this solar-powered UAV can provide aerial communications relay, border security monitoring, disaster relief networks, and other services. It serves as a pseudo-satellite platform that is quickly deployable for both military and commercial needs.
The successful test flight of the PHASA-35 represents a major milestone in solar-electric aviation. This innovative design pushes the boundaries of existing technology to create a UAV that can fly unattended for up to a year. As development continues, it promises to open up new possibilities in persistent aerial surveillance, communications, and remote sensing.
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