BAE Systems has completed a flight test for a solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle designed for long-duration flights in the stratosphere.
BAE said Monday it conducted the first fully integrated test flight for the Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft in South Australia in partnership with the U.K. and Australian governments.
The company has been working with U.K.-based aerospace firm Prismatic over the past two years to develop PHASA-35 and was able to produce two concept UAVs under the partnership in 2019.
BAE acquired Prismatic in September of the same year.
“To go from design to flight in less than two years shows that we can rise to the challenge the UK Government has set industry to deliver a Future Combat Air System within the next decade,” said Ian Muldowney, engineering director at BAE.
The company plans to facilitate further flight tests for the high-altitude aircraft this year ahead of being cleared for an initial operational capability.
PHASA-35 has a 35-meter wingspan and is built to use the sun to power its flight above the Earth’s atmosphere. The UAV is intended to accommodate new technologies like 5G to aid operations that require satellite technologies like maritime surveillance and fire detection.