A solar-powered spy drone that can fly for a year without maintenance or fuel could one day carry out missions for the British military.
The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) uses the sun to power its engines during the day as well as recharge its batteries for overnight operation.
Known as Phasa-35, the aircraft could one day be used for surveillance and provide vital communications to remote areas at altitudes of up to 70,000ft (21,000m).
Work is already underway to prepare the first drone for flight tests in 2019, according to British defence giant BAE systems, which is developing the aircraft.
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A solar-powered spy drone (artist's impression) that can fly for a year without maintenance or fuel could one day carry out missions for the British military
Engineers from BAE and Farnborough-based firm Prismatic announced Thursday they would collaborate on the development of the UAV.
Paul Brooks, founder and managing director of Prismatic, said: 'Phasa-35 has the ability to revolutionise the way we think about Beyond Line of Sight communications.
'It's great to have the support of a world leading technology company like BAE Systems.'
So-called 'High Altitude Low Energy' (HALE) aircraft offer a cheaper alternative to conventional satellite technology, according to BAE.
Phasa-35 (Persistent High Altitude Solar Aircraft) uses long-life battery technology and ultra-lightweight solar cells to potentially maintain flight for up to 12 months.
According to Prismatic, the UAV has a range of potential applications, including defence, security, surveillance and even environmental science imagery.
Known as known as Phasa-35, the aircraft (artist's impression) could one day be used for surveillance and provide vital communications to remote areas