Vultures swirling

  • 30-Jun-2008 09:22 EDT

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) awarded Boeing a $3.8 million contract for Phase 1 of the Vulture air vehicle program. The Vulture program calls for developing technologies and ultimately a vehicle that can deliver and maintain an airborne payload on station for an uninterrupted period of more than five years using a fixed-wing aircraft. The goal is for Vulture to be capable of carrying a 1000-lb, 5-kW payload and have a 99% probability of maintaining its on-station position. Boeing is teaming with QinetiQ Ltd., which currently is flying and testing a solar-powered, high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial system for the U.K. Ministry of Defense and the U.S. DOD under the Zephyr Joint Capabilities Technology Demonstration. QinetiQ’s role will be to leverage the technologies developed and demonstrated in Zephyr for the DARPA Vulture program. The yearlong Phase 1 covers conceptual system definition, and formal reliability and mission success analysis, concluding with a system requirements review. It also requires conceptual designs for sub- and full-scale demonstrators.

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