QinetiQ AWARDED CONTRACT TO BUILD SOLAR-POWERED UAV
15 Jun 05. QinetiQ has been awarded a major contract to design and build an unmanned solar-electric UAV that will provide the carrier for valuable observation data for such purposes as flood management, disaster relief, fire spotting and environmental and agricultural monitoring. The high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is designed to fly at 60,000 feet for months at a time, providing a carrier for a highly accurate and low cost alternative to expensive satellite and manned aircraft surveillance.
The QinetiQ aircraft will be incorporated in a Verhaert system known as Mercator which has a wingspan of 16 metres and weighs only 27 kilograms. Mercator will provide the vital element of the Pegasus HALE UAV project being conducted by VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research. VITO has awarded an overarching 11 million euro contract to Verhaert, the leading Belgian space systems company, and Verhaert in turn will contract with QinetiQ to supply the UAV. Verhaert will provide the ground station, integrate the subsystems, perform final testing at system level and manage the process of obtaining experimental flight clearances. The first flight trials are expected in the summer of 2006.