Tag Archives: PHASA-35

Solar Aircraft

PHASA-35, a 35 meters/115 feet wingspan solar-electric aircraft, has successfully completed its maiden flight. The landmark flight paves the way to this new aircraft becoming a game changer in the air and space market, plugging the gap between aircraft and satellite technology.

Ground-breaking solar powered unmanned aircraft makes first flight

PHASA-35 has been designed, built and now flown in less than two years as part of a collaboration between ourselves and Prismatic Ltd, which we agreed to acquire last year. Designed to operate unmanned in the stratosphere, above the weather and conventional air traffic, PHASA-35 offers a persistent and affordable alternative to satellites combined with the flexibility of an aircraft, which could be used for a range of valuable applications including forest fire detection and maritime surveillance.

Sponsored by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), the successful flight trials took place at the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Woomera Test Range in South Australia.

The trials marked the first fully integrated flight test of the PHASA-35 system, delivering rapid proof of capability from design to flight in just 20 months. They are the culmination of efforts from a collaborative team of British experts from Prismatic in Hampshire – where two full-sized concept aircraft were built last year – working alongside our engineers in Lancashire, where the aircraft underwent further integration testing prior to flight trials.

 

Going the distance

As a High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) vehicle, PHASA-35 is powered by the Sun during the day and by batteries overnight. The long-life battery and highly efficient solar technology could allow the aircraft to maintain flight for up to a year operating in the stratosphere (65,000 feet/19,812 m), the upper regions of the Earth’s atmosphere.

PHASA-35 is designed to provide a persistent, stable platform for monitoring, surveillance, communications and security applications. When connected to other technologies and assets, it will provide both military and commercial customers with capabilities that are not currently available from existing air and space platforms. The Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) also has the potential to be used in the delivery of communications networks including 5G, as well as provide other services, such as disaster relief and border protection, at a fraction of the cost of satellites.

Ian Muldowney, Engineering Director here at BAE Systems, said: «This is an outstanding early result that demonstrates the pace that can be achieved when we bring the best of British capability together. 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».

Our acquisition of Prismatic forms part of the Company’s strategy to develop breakthrough technologies, making bolt-on acquisitions where they complement existing capabilities and provide an opportunity to accelerate technology development in key areas.

Further flight trials are scheduled for later this year, with the possibility that the aircraft could enter initial operations with customers within 12 months of the flight trials programme completion.

Solar UAV

A new solar electric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which has the potential to fly for up to a year before needing maintenance, has become a step closer to reality following a new agreement between two cutting-edge British companies, BAE Systems and Prismatic.

Solar UAV to be developed with the potential to stay airborne for a year
Solar UAV to be developed with the potential to stay airborne for a year

Engineers from Prismatic and BAE Systems will collaborate on the development of the new solar powered High Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV known as PHASA-35, with work already underway to prepare the first aircraft to be ready for flight tests in 2019.

The technology would offer a year-round, low cost persistent service for a wide range of needs including surveillance and vital communications to remote areas, using only the sun to power the aircraft during the day and recharge the batteries for overnight operation.

Solar HALE vehicles offer a significantly cheaper alternative to conventional satellite technology, with PHASA-35 (standing for Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft), being a concept solar electric UAV that uses proven, long life battery technology and ultra-lightweight solar cells to potentially maintain flight for up to 12 months.

The PHASA-35 concept has a 35-metre/115-foot wingspan and weighs just 150 kg/331 lbs. – its lightweight, efficient build allows it to fly at high altitudes for long periods of time.

A quarter scale model (named PHASE-8) completed a successful maiden flight in 2017, with Prismatic Ltd and BAE Systems now looking to take the technology a step further.

BAE Systems will invest in the development and flight testing of the PHASA-35 system as part of its drive to continually develop new technologies to support aircraft of the future, working collaboratively with SMEs and academia.

BAE Systems has a portfolio of patents and patent applications covering approximately 2000 inventions internationally, and under the agreement with Prismatic, it will provide expertise in aerospace technology and project management to progress the PHASA-35 programme through to a marketable offering.