US Navy’s Pilotless Solar-Powered Plane Can Fly for 90 Days Straight
The US Navy is developing a pilotless aircraft capable to remain airborne for 90 days. The crewless aircraft will be powered with solar energy from solar panels on its wings.
The US Navy has given the contract to develop the plane to US-Spanish aerospace firm Skydweller Aero.
Removing the cockpit allowed a longer range and larger payloads!
By eliminating the need for a pilot, aircraft will be able to carry more hardware and increase uninterrupted flight time.
The plane’s 236-foot wingspan is covered with 2,900 square feet of photovoltaic cells. Aptly called, Skydweller, the plane can fly for 90 days at a stretch without taking off and landing multiple times.
Carrying 800 pounds of radar and camera equipment, the autonomous plane can cruise at speeds of up to 100 knots and fly as high as 45,931 feet. These advanced capabilities could allow the Navy to watch the surrounding seas continuously while escorting ships for months at a time.
The drones that are being currently operated by the US Navy can remain airborne for 30 hours only. But the Skydweller will be able to boost the performance and prove useful on a wider range of missions. Skydweller Aero is also planning to fit the Skydweller with hydrogen fuel cells for backup in case of bad weather.