SolarEagle unmanned aircraft to fly non-stop for 5 years

September 22, 2010

The Boeing Company on Sept. 14 signed an agreement with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop and fly the SolarEagle unmanned aircraft for the Vulture II demonstration program. Under the terms of the $89 million contract, SolarEagle will make its first demonstration flight in 2014.

"SolarEagle is a uniquely configured, large designed to eventually remain on station at stratospheric altitudes for at least five years," said Pat O'Neil, Boeing Phantom Works program manager for Vulture II. "That's a daunting task, but Boeing has a highly reliable solar-electric design that will meet the challenge in order to perform persistent communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from altitudes above 60,000 feet."

Under the Vulture II agreement, Boeing will develop a full-scale flight demonstrator, including maturation of the critical power system and structures technologies. Key suppliers for the program include Versa Power Systems and QinetiQ.

During testing, the SolarEagle demonstrator will remain in the for 30 days, harvesting solar energy during the day that will be stored in fuel cells and used to provide power through the night. The aircraft will have highly efficient electric motors and propellers and a high-aspect-ratio, 400-foot wing for increased solar power and aerodynamic performance.

SolarEagle is one of Phantom Works' rapid prototyping efforts, which also include Phantom Ray, a fighter-sized, unmanned, advanced technology demonstrator scheduled to make its first flight in early 2011, and the hydrogen-powered Phantom Eye demonstrator, a High Altitude Long Endurance aircraft designed to stay aloft for up to four days, also scheduled to make its first flight in 2011.

Explore further: Two Boeing X-45A Unmanned Jets Continue Coordinated Flights

Related Stories

Two Boeing X-45A Unmanned Jets Continue Coordinated Flights

December 14, 2004

Two military jets flying together may seem routine, but when they are pilotless, tail-less aircraft, routine goes out the window and science fiction springs to mind. Boeing continued to turn science fiction into reality when ...

Boeing A160 Hummingbird Completes Flight Test

December 6, 2005

Boeing has announced the A160 Hummingbird unmanned rotorcraft made its first test flight from an airfield near Victorville, Calif., Nov. 30. "This flight - the first with a six cylinder Subaru engine - is an important step ...

Team Uses Historic NASA Tunnel to Test Blended Wing Body

May 4, 2006

A historic NASA wind tunnel is helping test the prototype of a new, more fuel-efficient aircraft design. Boeing Phantom Works, St. Louis, has partnered with NASA's Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate and the U.S. Air ...

Phantom Ray unmanned aircraft makes its debut

May 12, 2010

After only two years of development, the Phantom Ray unmanned airborne system (UAS) was unveiled at a ceremony in St. Louis on May 10. Built by Boeing in St. Louis, the sleek, fighter-sized UAS combines survivability with ...

Recommended for you

Facebook ready to test giant drone for Internet service

July 30, 2015

Facebook says it will begin test flights later this year for a solar-powered drone with a wingspan as big as a Boeing 737, in the next stage of its campaign to deliver Internet connectivity to remote parts of the world.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.