Aerovironment’s Global Observer: Flying High, AgainAug 07, 2015 00:25 UTC
The late Dr. Paul McReady’s Aerovironment, Inc. has achieved just renown for the success of its small UAVs like the Army’s RQ-11 Raven and the US Marines’ RQ-14 Dragon Eye/Swift. Outside the military sphere, however, it is best known for civil successes like the human-powered Gossamer Condor, the giant, solar-powered Pathfinder and Helios aircraft, and the flying Quetzalcoatlus northropi ornithopter on display in the Smithsonian museum.
Those traditions have fused in a major Advanced Concept/Joint Capability Technology Demonstration (ACTD/JCTD) contract for a UAV that runs on hydrogen fuel cells, and can cruise at 55,000-65,000 feet for up to 7 days at a time, while carrying a 1,000 pound payload. Meet Aerovironment’s Global Observer, which promises formidable advantages in roles as diverse as communications relay, persistent ISR (intelligence, surveillance & reconnaissance), maritime patrol, and even storm tracking and weather applications: