If everything goes well we will soon witness a high-altitude unmanned airplane (UAV) operating continuously for a period of five years. Under the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Vulture program, Boeing will develop a uniquely configured, large unmanned aircraft that will remain on station at stratospheric altitudes for at least five years. Dubbed the “SolarEagle”, the full-scale demonstrator has entered phase II and will take off for its first demonstration flight in 2014.
The SolarEagle powered by highly efficient electric motors and propellers will feature 400-foot wing that will help in increasing the solar energy generation and aerodynamic performance. When the aircraft will undergo testing, it will harvest solar energy during the day and store it in fuel cells to power during night. The testing will last for good 30 days. The aircraft’s highly reliable solar-electric design is what Boeing thinks will allow it to perform persistent communications, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions from altitudes above 60,000 feet.