Drone to be used by British military breaks flight record
The plane runs on solar power during the day and solar-charged batteries at night.
A solar-powered drone to be used by the British military has set a new flight record, its developer Airbus said.
The Zephyr S broke the endurance record for an un-refuelled aircraft at 1.53pm (GMT) on Wednesday afternoon, surpassing the 14 days, 22 minutes and 8 seconds set by an older model in 2010.
The plane, which weighs around as much as an average human, cruises in the stratosphere at around 70,000 ft, and runs on solar power during the day and solar-charged batteries at night.
It can be used for a range of purposes from monitoring environmental disasters to satellite communications and assisting border patrol missions.
Minister for Defence Procurement Stuart Andrew said: “This news is a huge step forward for these extraordinary Zephyr aircraft.
“This record-breaking piece of kit is using a wide range of innovative technologies to blur the lines between air and space, and could one day gather battle-winning information to help our troops on the front line.”
Described by Airbus as a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite, a cross between a satellite and a drone, it has a wingspan of 25 metres and weighs around 75 kilograms.
The Ministry of Defence has ordered three, an Airbus spokesman said.
It has been in the air since setting off on its maiden flight from Arizona, in the US, on July 11.