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  • Hanging Around Up There Like...a Vulture
    Posted by Graham Warwick 8:51 PM on Apr 18, 2008

    Aurora Flight Sciences caused a bit of a stir this week when it got out ahead of Darpa in announcing it had won a contract to study a UAV that can stay aloft for up to five years. But now the other shoe has dropped and we know Boeing and Lockheed's Skunk Works have also won contracts under Phase 1 of Darpa's Vulture programme. The announcement will come on Monday, when we'll get to see the real things...

    blog post photo

    The reaction when Darpa first said it wanted to develop a stratospheric UAV with five years' endurance was: "What are those mad scientists smoking now?". Even Aurora CEO John Langford says: "We started off rolling our eyes, but as we got further in we become really convinced it's doable". The Auroa and Boeing designs are both solar powered - there's no news yet on the Skunk Works' concept.

    Part of the year-long first phase will involve working out quite what a "pseudo-satellite" UAV like Vulture would be useful for. Another part will involve designing a subscale demonstrator that could fly in Phase 2 and stay aloft for three months. Langford thinks that bird could have real commercial and scientific potential.

    Tags: Darpa, Boeing, SkunkWorks, LockheedMartin, AuroraFlightSciences, UAV, AR99

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