The Zephyr drone, developed by Airbus in collaboration with the U.S. Army, is the first of its kind high-altitude Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). Built to be adaptable and long-lasting in the stratosphere, the Zephyr set a new record of 42 days of uncrewed flight duration.
Known as a High-Altitude Platform Station (HAPS), the Zephyr’s onboard batteries are solar-powered and designed for long endurance missions. The recent flight highlighted the solar-powered UAS’s energy storage capacity and solar panel efficiency that will allow the Army to use the drone for these long endurance missions that could last for months at a time. Because of the solar-powered energy system, the Zephyr is carbon neutral.
The Zephyr’s wingspan is an impressive 82 feet, and the aircraft weighs in at only 165 pounds thanks for the carbon fiber composite fuselage. The lightweight construction allows the Zephyr to carry payloads of up to 50 pounds at altitudes of 70,000 feet. The Zephyr is also built to observe ground area covering 12 by 18 miles which will allow the Army to use it for security surveillance.