The “Zephyr” solar-powered UAV developed by the U.S. Army and Airbus has been flying in high skies since the launch test began on June 15 this year.
Until yesterday, the Army announced that the test was suspended on the 18th due to a sudden mechanical problem, but it still set a record of 64 consecutive days of flight.
The Zephyr drone is powered by solar energy, first designed by British company Qinetiq in 2003 and demonstrated to the U.S. Army in 2008 at 61,000 feet and 82 hours flight time, breaking the record of continuous flight of drones.
After Kennethick sold the Zephyr solar unmanned aerial system to Airbus Group in 2013, the U.S. Army continued to invest in developing it in partnership with Airbus.
The latest Zephyr 8 solar drone has a wingspan of 25 meters (82 feet) and a weight of about 75 kg (165 pounds) (25 kg or 55 pounds for lithium batteries). It can carry 5 kg (11 pounds) of equipment.
It can charge itself while flying to achieve extremely long and long-distance flight capabilities.
The U.S. Army Positioning, Navigation and Timing / Space Cross-Functional Team (APNT/Space), which is responsible for the test, said that the Zephyr drone flew over the Yuma Proving Range in Arizona on the 18th. It was suddenly forced to land for unknown mechanical reasons, and the 64-day flight test was terminated.
The development team is currently conducting a full investigation and is not expected to continue testing until early 2023, and the exact cause of the failure will not be known until the investigation report is published.