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QinetiQ, Boeing Partner on Long-Endurance UAV

This article first appeared in Aerospace Daily & Defense Report.

FARNBOROUGH -- Boeing has selected QinetiQ, the U.K.-based defense technology company, as its key technology partner on Vulture -- the ultra-long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) concept proposed by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The $3.8-million first phase of the program will see QinetiQ participating in system definition and analysis as well as a review of system requirements. The challenge? To create a large, load-carrying UAV able to remain aloft for weeks on end.

As part of the Boeing team, QinetiQ is expected to apply expertise gained in the development of Zephyr, a high-altitude long-endurance UAV. Launched by hand, Zephyr, is built mainly from lightweight carbon fiber. It flies on solar power by day and draws power from rechargeable lithium sulfur batteries by night.

In October of last year, Zephyr exceeded the official world record duration for unmanned flight, with a 54-hour mission flown over the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

DARPA's goal for Vulture is the ability to carry a 1,000-pound, 5-kw payload for an extended period, while remaining on station despite strong high-altitude winds and other factors. Considered a "pseudo satellite," Vulture may one day serve as a persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform, or as an aerial node in a global communications network.

In addition to its UAV work, QinetiQ comes to Farnborough this year riding a wave of significant contract wins. The company is a key player on the F-35 Lightning II program. As a member of TeamUK F-35, QinetiQ is helping with development in key areas, including flight simulation, training, weapons systems and through-life platform management.

Be sure to read the rest of this story, take a look at Japan's altered acquisition rules, how the US Army is recruiting in the virtual world and more gouge from the Farnborough Air Show by our friends at Aviation Week on Military.com.

-- Christian

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