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Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

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Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Postby ~UNiOnJaCk~ » 09 Sep 2015, 20:57

Interesting. Had been wondering how far our interest would go in Zephyr. Looks to be a very novel piece of equipment and any serious interest in it is a great boon for UK innovation.

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defens ... /71932756/

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby arfah » 09 Sep 2015, 21:30

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby bobp » 09 Sep 2015, 21:32

Very interesting bit of news wonder in what role the MOD will use them. Looks like its capable of a lot of different tasks.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 09 Sep 2015, 21:39

Wow very good news, I though this would be another of those projects that just fade to vapourware. Glad to see the MOD taking on new technology's, hopefully a sign of thing to come next month.

5kg sensor doesn't seem like much though.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby bobp » 09 Sep 2015, 21:52

You can pack a lot of electronics into 5 KG how much does your mobile phone weigh? The limitation would be power consumption.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 09 Sep 2015, 22:07

bobp wrote:You can pack a lot of electronics into 5 KG how much does your mobile phone weigh? The limitation would be power consumption.


no doubt you can, but at 70,000 feet things are going to look pretty small and will require some intense kit.

Your point about the power consumption is a very good one.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby ~UNiOnJaCk~ » 09 Sep 2015, 23:02

arfah wrote:Fragile looking, isn't it?


You're not wrong. I guess that is the key to its really impressive endurance though. Would also be interesting to hear if it ever transpired that it also makes for a smaller radar cross section too.

bobp wrote:Very interesting bit of news wonder in what role the MOD will use them. Looks like its capable of a lot of different tasks.


Well the article states 'operational capability trials' but i am not exactly sure what type of activity that covers. Perhaps someone here might clarify exactly what kind of tasks 'operational capability demonstrations' entails? Does it mean we intend to trial them out on actual 'operations' or does it just mean we want to familiarise ourselves with them in order to find a potential role for them to fulfil?

Either way, not a full blown introduction of type in to service, but some good steps forward in a very innovative area nonetheless and who knows where the trials might lead. They could be embarking on them with a mind to inducting the Zephyr system itself?

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby arfah » 09 Sep 2015, 23:12

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby SKB » 10 Sep 2015, 00:08

Image

Introduction
Zephyr is a series of lightweight solar-powered UAV originally designed and built by the United Kingdom company, QinetiQ and is now part of the Airbus High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme.

History
The Zephyr 7 holds the official endurance record for an unmanned aerial vehicle for its flight from 9 July to 23 July 2010, lasting 336 hours and 22 minutes (2 weeks / 14 days). Record claims have been verified by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) for both duration and altitude, at 21,562 meters. It more than doubled the previous endurance record for unmanned flight.

In a 2008 demonstration for the US military, a smaller-scale version of the Zephyr (Zephyr 6) performed beyond the official world record for the longest-duration unmanned flight, however its 82-hour flight at an altitude of 61,000 feet did not set an official record because FAI officials were not involved in the flight.

Design
It is of carbon-fibre construction, and uses sunlight to charge a lithium-sulphur battery during the day, which powers the aircraft at night. The aircraft has been designed for use in observation and communications relay.

The vehicle can circle over a particular area for extended periods. The military uses the vehicle for reconnaissance and communications platforms. Civilian and scientific programmes use it for Earth observation. During the day, Zephyr uses its state-of-the-art solar cells spread across its wings to recharge high-power lithium-sulphur batteries and drive two propellers. At night, the energy stored in the batteries is sufficient to maintain Zephyr in the sky. The lithium sulphur batteries are supplied by Sion, and the first version had a battery capacity of 3kWh.

Zephyr 7 is bigger and requires five individuals to launch, as opposed to three previously. The team runs gently into the wind until it lifts out of their hands. Zephyr 8 is now under development and will be bigger still, with a 28 metre wingspan.

The Zephyr system was sold to EADS Astrium (now named Airbus Defence and Space) in March 2013 where it has successfully re-flown as part of the High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) programme. In 2014 it flew for 11 days in winter, and later near civilian airspace.

Flight
The 53 kg Zephyr typically climbs to about 40,000 ft on its first day, and then maintains between 60,000 ft and 40,000 ft thereafter.

Technical specifications

Crew: none
Payload: 2.5 kg (5 lb)
Length: (?)
Wingspan: 22.5 m (73 ft 10 in)
Height: (?)
Loaded weight: 53 kg (116.8 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × 450W Newcastle University custom permanent-magnet synchronous motor, () each
Cruise speed: 30 knots
Service ceiling: exceeds 21 km (70,000 ft)


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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 10 Sep 2015, 00:27

Spotted that video when I was looking into the imaging capabilities of the system. Looks like it could go some way to bridging our lack of imaging satellites, a role it would suite perfectly.

That small sample looks on par with commercial satellite operators, which is also something we should take advantage of, if we don't already that is.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby ~UNiOnJaCk~ » 10 Sep 2015, 00:37

Well, IIRC, we only recently (last couple of years) put up, or announced plans to launch, a small constellation of medium resolution observation satellites (still images AFAIK) but even with that it seems we have a bit of a lack of such resources so something like this - which may well be much more flexible than a satellite based alternative, and certainly much cheaper - looks to be a very good compromise.

I'll see if I can find the link and add it to this post later as I am on my phone at the moment.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 10 Sep 2015, 00:43

~UNiOnJaCk~ wrote:which may well be much more flexible than a satellite based alternative, and certainly much cheaper - looks to be a very good compromise.


yep, thats the key to the concept, could work out to be great.

I would be interested in that link if you have it. I know we have a satellite communication network, but I have never found anything about an imagining system.
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Old RN » 10 Sep 2015, 13:15

Two thoughts.
1. Could it carry a synthetic aperture radar? Some are very small.
2. Could it provide some kind of coverage to support the QE? Three months on station?

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby arfah » 10 Sep 2015, 13:20

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby cockneyjock1974 » 10 Sep 2015, 13:40

arfah wrote:
Old RN wrote:Two thoughts.
1. Could it carry a synthetic aperture radar? Some are very small.
2. Could it provide some kind of coverage to support the QE? Three months on station?


3. How easily could it be shot down?


Nice fat solar powered target for an infrared seeker lol. However not sure how many SAMs these days reach 70000 feet.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby jonas » 10 Sep 2015, 13:58

The original article on 'defensenews.com' appears to have been taken down, I did however manage to find this :-

http://www.fightercontrol.co.uk/forum/v ... 7&p=748291

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby arfah » 10 Sep 2015, 14:32

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Why this forum is pish!

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2: Too many fantasists ruining dedicated equipment threads with notions of what gun/mortar/artillery/missiles the equipment should have because it makes their panties moist.


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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby ~UNiOnJaCk~ » 10 Sep 2015, 15:02

shark bait wrote:
~UNiOnJaCk~ wrote:which may well be much more flexible than a satellite based alternative, and certainly much cheaper - looks to be a very good compromise.


yep, thats the key to the concept, could work out to be great.

I would be interested in that link if you have it. I know we have a satellite communication network, but I have never found anything about an imagining system.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-india-33473694

Not the original link i came across but i believe it is in relation to the same project. They are commercial systems (currently employed in the service of the Chinese i think!) but IIRC, and if this is the same project, then i believe it was mentioned that the MoD might very well make use of them - or i could have it all completely wrong! :D

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby shark bait » 10 Sep 2015, 15:18

~UNiOnJaCk~ wrote:
Not the original link i came across but i believe it is in relation to the same project. They are commercial systems (currently employed in the service of the Chinese i think!) but IIRC, and this is the same project, then i believe it was mentioned that the MoD might very well make use of them - or i could have it all completely wrong! :D



Interesting thanks, not a full spy satellite but we should defiantly be tapping in to the information from these commercial operators.


Looking into the zephyrs imaging capabilities it is rated at level 6 which is described as

Detect narcotics intercropping based on texture.
Distinguish between row (e.g., corn, soybean) crops and small grain (e.g., wheat, oats) crops.
Identify automobiles as sedans or station wagons.
Identify individual telephone/electric poles in residential neighborhoods.
Detect foot trails through barren areas.

So that's it, there coming after our electric poles!
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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Lugzy » 10 Sep 2015, 17:50

Hmmmmmm , Well less than 24hrs after the initial press release , it seems Airbus and the MOD deny any deal being done in regards to the Zephyr ,

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defens ... /72002140/

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby arfah » 10 Sep 2015, 18:03

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Why this forum is pish!

1: Ineffective moderators
2: Too many fantasists ruining dedicated equipment threads with notions of what gun/mortar/artillery/missiles the equipment should have because it makes their panties moist.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby bobp » 10 Sep 2015, 18:14

Who leaked our super secret purchase of super secret drones as announced by err Mr Cameron who said I want more super secret thingie bobs for our super secret air force.

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby Lugzy » 10 Sep 2015, 18:24

I'm guessing there's a few red faces at Airbus HQ right now , seems some one jumped the gun a little , maybe ,,,, lol

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Re: UK MoD To Acquire High-Flying Zephyr 8 UAVs

Postby The Armchair Soldier » 28 Oct 2015, 11:32

Lugzy wrote:Hmmmmmm , Well less than 24hrs after the initial press release , it seems Airbus and the MOD deny any deal being done in regards to the Zephyr ,

http://www.defensenews.com/story/defens ... /72002140/

This report claims that Zephyr is still being looked at:
Other future areas of interest to the RN include the Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander airship, which could be used as a cargo carrier or persistent surveillance asset, and the Airbus Defence & Space Zephyr high altitude pseudo-satellite, which can also offer persistent watch.

“What we haven’t yet sorted with this [Zephyr] is a meaningful payload,” Evans added. “5kg just doesn’t offer enough, but we are looking at options.”
Read More: https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... on-418270/


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