The Long-Lasting High Altitude Solar Aircraft (PHASA-35), built by PRISmatic, a subsidiary of BAE Systems, conducted its first fully integrated flight test over the Woomera Test Range of the Royal South Australian Air Force (RAAF),media reported. The aircraft, supported by the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), is a high-altitude long-range (HALE) aircraft designed to bridge the gap between aircraft and satellites.
According to BAE Systems, it completed the design-to-first test flight in 20 months and built two full-size prototypes in 2019.
Compared to satellites, the PHASA-35 is less expensive to build and operate, and it is a durable, stable air platform with military and civilian applications including surveillance, communications, security, remote sensing, environmental science, forest fire detection and maritime surveillance.
It is understood that the PHASA-35 wingspan of 35 meters, the use of a dedicated carbon composite overall bearing structure, weighing 150 kg, thanks to the arsenide solar array and lithium-ion battery system, the aircraft can continue to fly in the air for up to a year. In addition, the PHASA-35 can fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet (21,000 meters), achieve slower than 50-78 knots (93km/h-145km/h) and fly against the wind.
Ian Muldowney, director of engineering at BAE Systems, said: “This is an outstanding early result that shows how fast we can make progress when we bring together the best people in the UK. The completion of the work from design to flight in less than two years shows that we can meet the challenge set by the UK government for industry to deliver a future combat air system within the next 10 years. “
BAE Systems is understood to be planning more flight tests in 2020.