The British special forces will soon start using a futuristic solar-powered spy drone.
Described as a ‘psuedo-satellite’, the drone can fly at 70,000ft – twice the altitude of a commercial airliner – so high that it will not be affected by the weather.
The £4.3 million ($5.6m) Zephyr S will be used to track terror targets across the world.
The drone flies by day on solar power, which also recharges its lithium-sulphur batteries to power it by night.
It has a wingspan of 74 feet and is launched by four military personnel on their shoulders. It can fly anywhere in the world using communication satellites to relay communication, but if satellite is not available, a specially trained soldier will use a control station to fly it over a range of up to 400km.
A camera mounted on the aircraft will be used to monitor ground movement.
According to a UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) statement, the drone ‘Referred to as a High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS), performs more like a satellite than a conventional UAV.’
A total of 3 of these have been ordered, and trials are expected next year.
Source: Nairobi Wire