AFP

United Kingdom goes solar 19 February, 2016

Airbus Defence and Space has won an order from the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) for the manufacture and operation of two solar-powered Zephyr 8 high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) craft. Flying at some 65,000ft, the ultra-lightweight Zephyr 8 is uniquely capable of providing persistent surveillance over land or sea, and hosting communications links, over the same area for months at a time without landing. The precise purposes for which the UK MoD will use its Zephyrs have not been disclosed. The earlier Zephyr 7 HAPS holds the world record for 14 days continuous flight set in 2010 – with the aircraft charging its batteries from sunlight during the day and maintaining its high altitude at night. The first Zephyr 8 is under construction at Airbus Defence and Space’s Farnborough, UK facility and is due to fly in mid-2017.

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