BAE’s PHASA-35 makes first flight
Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft (PHASA-35), a 35m wingspan solar-electric aircraft with the potential to stay airborne for a year, has successfully completed its maiden flight, McLean, VA-based BAE Systems announced February 17.
PHASA-35 has been designed, built and now flown in less than two years as part of a collaboration between BAE and Prismatic Ltd, which the company 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 BAE’s engineers in Lancashire, where the aircraft underwent further integration testing prior to flight trials.
Ian Muldowney, engineering director 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.”
Source: BAE Systems