NRL's XFC UAS achieves flight endurance milestone

Aug 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has completed a successful flight test of the fuel cell powered XFC (eXperimental Fuel Cell) unmanned aerial system (UAS). During the June 2 flight test, the XFC UAS was airborne for more than six hours. NRL's Chemistry and Tactical Electronic Warfare Divisions are developing the XFC UAS as an expendable, long endurance platform for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR).

Compared to powered vehicles, battery powered UAS are inherently stealthy in that they are relatively free of noise and thermal signature, and are easy to start, operate and maintain. However, they have poor payload capacity and endurance. The electrically powered UAS could have more tactical utility and be a platform for ISR if endurance could be increased.

NRL and its fuel cell development and manufacturing partner, Protonex Technology Corporation (Southborough, MA) have addressed these issues by developing a hydrogen power plant system that greatly extends endurance and permits increased payload capacity. The technology has been successfully integrated into the XFC UAS, a folding wing, expendable UAS that has a small footprint with a standard lightweight rail launcher.

The non-hybridized power plant supports this fully autonomous aircraft and an EO/IR payload for a flight endurance that enables relatively low cost, low altitude, ISR missions of up to seven-plus hours in its current configuration. In its final form, the XFC will be capable of self-launching from a folded configuration with loiter speed of 30 knots and a dash speed of 52 knots.

Source: Naval Research Laboratory (news : web)

Explore further: Seeing through the fog (and dust and snow) of war

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NRL demonstrates fuel cell-powered unmanned aerial system

Nov 22, 2005

The Naval Research Laboratory, in collaboration with industrial partners, demonstrated an unmanned aerial system (UAS) flight solely powered by fuel cell technology. The flight of the 5.6-pound 'Spider-Lion" lasted 3 hours, 1 ...

Proxy Aviation Systems Unveils SkyWatcher

Jun 28, 2005

Proxy Aviation Systems recently unveiled SkyWatcher, a long endurance, low and medium altitude, multi-payload unmanned aircraft system at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International's (AUVSI) demonstration ...

Recommended for you

Seeing through the fog (and dust and snow) of war

14 hours ago

Degraded visibility—which encompasses diverse environmental conditions including severe weather, dust kicked up during takeoff and landing and poor visual contrast among different parts of terrain—often ...

The oscillator that could makeover the mechanical watch

Sep 18, 2014

For the first time in 200 years the heart of the mechanical watch has been reinvented, thereby improving precision and autonomy while making the watch completely silent. EPFL researchers have developed an ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

sender
not rated yet Aug 07, 2009
could use a rotary air engine and pneumatically actuated turboshafts, maybe some helium ballasts also to cruise howmany ever months more than 6 hours