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Drone competes with satellites

Britain-ALSHARQIYA June 24: British designers have developed a solar-powered drone that may be an alternative to satellites, due to its ability to stay in the air for more than a year without stopping.

The drone has a wingspan of 35 meters and can fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet above the surface for 20 months, according to the British "Daily Mail".

Developed by BAE Systems, the PHASA-35 drone weighs 150 kilograms and has a payload of 15 kilograms, including cameras, sensors and communication equipment.

Also, the aircraft is suitable for military uses and allows military forces to communicate with each other via closed circuits, or via Internet signals that they can deliver to remote areas.

BAE said that the drone will be available by 2025 and can be used as a stable and affordable alternative to satellite technology, where it can be employed to monitor the movements of military forces in enemy territory or maritime activities around the clock for long periods.

Also, its developers explained that the satellite can provide high-resolution images for a specific period of time depending on the period of its rotation and the coordinates of the location to be monitored, while the march can have the ability to provide a stable feed of high-resolution images.

The advantage of flying at an altitude of up to 70,000 feet and at speeds of feet per second allows it to operate in the "stratosphere" (the stratosphere), that is, it can provide constant data for any geographical area and in different weather conditions.

Also, the solar panels on top of it operate at an efficiency of about 30%, which is close to the upper limit available with current technology.

At night it is powered by batteries, with the option to reduce altitude to save battery life or continue flying at a higher altitude.

On the impact of the vehicle's lack of sunlight in the polar regions, BAE explained that the lack of sunlight in those regions will reduce the total operating time to a few weeks.

However, current technologies are being developed to improve performance, and there is an option available to lighten its payload so that it can fly to higher altitudes or work for longer periods.

The drone completed its maiden flight in Australia in February 2020 and is scheduled to fly into the stratosphere this year over American skies.

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