Falls Church, Virginia-based Vanilla Aircraft has developed and demonstrated a small unmanned aerial vehicle as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored small business project.
The VA001 drone took off on Nov. 30 and flew for 56 hours near Las Cruces International Airport in New Mexico before it landed on Dec. 2 containing at least half of its fuel, DARPA said Wednesday.
The unmanned vehicle operated at an altitude of up to 7,500 feet and at an average speed of 57 knots.
The drone “would help extend the footprint of small units by providing scalable, persistent UAV-based communications and ISR coverage without forward basing, thereby reducing personnel and operating costs,“ said Jean-Charles Lede, program manager at DARPA.
A National Aeronautic Association representative said the flight demonstration achieved the world duration record in the 50-500 kg-subclass for combustion-based drones.
VA001 is a diesel-powered UAV designed to carry a 30-pound payload for up to 10 days without the need for refueling operations.