BAE Systems’ (see cleaning feature) Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft (PHASA-35), a 35m wingspan solar-electric aircraft, has completed its maiden flight.

Designed to operate unmanned in the stratosphere, above weather and conventional air traffic, PHASA-35 offers a persistent, lower-cost alternative to satellites with the flexibility of an aircraft for applications including 5G communications, forest fire detection, and maritime surveillance.

Powered by the sun during the day and by batteries overnight, the PHASA-35’s long-life battery and high-efficiency solar technology could allow the aircraft to maintain flight for up to a year.

PHASA-35 was designed, built, and flown in less than two years as part of a collaboration between BAE and Prismatic Ltd., which BAE acquired in 2019.

Sponsored by the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and Australian Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), flight trials took place with support of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) at its Woomera Test Range in South Australia.

Further flight trials are scheduled for later this year, with the possibility that the aircraft could enter initial operations with customers within 12 months of flight trials completion.

SteelCloud software to harden DOD UAV

SteelCloud LLC’s ConfigOS software will automate Security Technical Implementation Guide (STIG) compliance for a U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) program.

“We are seeing a significant increase in our activity around weapon systems as the focus on securing these systems has heightened,” says Brian Hajost, SteelCloud president and CEO.

“Being network and domain-independent, and requiring no agents or clients, ConfigOS is uniquely suited to the DOD’s non-traditional computing platforms.”

TerraView commercial UAV meets US content rules

Valencia, California-based unmanned aircraft system (UAS) company TerraView’s RangePro X8P Pixhawk has system components and options that meet U.S. federal government and Department of Defense (DOD) guidelines.

Designed to fly for more than 70 minutes with a standard sensor payload, the RangePro X8P uses U.S.-made flight control system (FCS) components and highly secure radio options, aligning it with pending U.S. Senate bill S.2502, the American Security Drone Act of 2019. If passed, the law will ban federal departments and agencies from purchasing commercial off-the-shelf drone or unmanned aircraft systems manufactured or assembled in China or other countries identified for national security concerns.