Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Contains threads on Joint Service equipment of the past, present and future.
Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

dmereifield wrote:UK should be buying some!
To be fair we've got 2-3 Zephyr built/on the way for the MoD. Probably more HAPS than anyone else.

dmereifield
Senior Member
Posts: 2544
Joined: 03 Aug 2016, 20:29
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by dmereifield »

Really, did I miss that it just forget, have we officially ordered them?

Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

dmereifield wrote:Really, did I miss that it just forget, have we officially ordered them?
Sorry missed this.

Yes ordered 3 in 2016. One of the ones that crashed in Australia in 2019 was one of the MoD ones (although it sounded like it might be repairable, but no news whatsoever since). The other one was an Airbus owned example that was trialling some connectivity solutions for Facebook.

Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

Not sure how I missed this....first news out of Airbus regarding Zephyr for an age.

The interesting bit...
- They're back in the US, not Australia where they had a new facility....no reason given
- Looks like a series of short flights, focus on aircraft agility and control, lower altitude flying - Perhaps because of the crashes? Clues as to the reason for the crashes in the areas being enhanced?
- "plus associated lighter test aircraft" - Sounds like previous Zephyr generations being used alongside to prove flight control laws

All in all the activity has the hallmarks of a 'get well' activity to address the issues that have obviously cropped up, including the return to the US.

https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-r ... a-usa.html

Press Release

"Farnborough, 3 December 2020 – Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed a new test flight campaign for its Zephyr High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) in Arizona, U.S.A.

The 2020 flight campaign succeeded despite global slowdowns due to the Covid19 pandemic. It focused on aircraft agility, control and operations to build upon previous campaigns, which have already proven the day and night stratospheric persistence of the unmanned aerial system (UAS) essential in military and commercial markets.

This year’s campaign held during the first three weeks of November aimed to demonstrate operational flexibility and aircraft agility, particularly testing lower altitude flying and early stage transition to the stratosphere. It also allowed the validation of a new flight planning tool suite and the development of operational concepts through multiple, varied flights in short succession.

“Having proven stratospheric flight, we continue to further mature the operational system with the objective to be more flexible and robust in order to meet our customer needs. The outcome of this campaign is a valuable contribution to the full flight programme next year,” said Jana Rosenmann, Head of Unmanned Aerial Systems at Airbus.

The campaign team used a Zephyr aircraft, fitted with new software control systems and specific flight test instruments, plus associated lighter test aircraft to conduct multiple successful test flights during November.

The flights demonstrated take-off, climb, cruise, upgraded flight control and descent phases, followed by successful landings. The objectives of the test campaign were all achieved showcasing a more resilient and capable aircraft.

Zephyr is the world’s leading, solar–electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial System (UAS). It harnesses the sun’s rays, running exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic, filling a capability gap complementary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide persistent local satellite-like services.

With the conclusion of this year’s successful test flight campaign, Zephyr has come another step closer to an operational reality. Zephyr will bring new see, sense and connect capabilities to both commercial and military customers alike. Zephyr will provide the potential to revolutionize disaster management, including monitoring the spread of wildfires or oil spills. It provides persistent surveillance, tracing the world’s changing environmental landscape and will be able to provide communications to the most unconnected parts of the world.

Already in July 2018, the Zephyr team conducted a successful test flight campaign when Zephyr S flew in the stratosphere for nearly 26 days (25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes‎).
It remains the longest flight duration of an aircraft ever made without refuelling. The aircraft persisted in the stratosphere day and night, consistently achieved a dawn altitude of 60,000ft as well as its highest altitude of 71,140ft. "

SW1
Senior Member
Posts: 2671
Joined: 27 Aug 2018, 19:12
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by SW1 »

https://www.airbus.com/newsroom/press-r ... ights.html

· Achieved 36 days of stratospheric flight, across two 2021 flights, proving Zephyr’s status as the only HAPS able to perform at length in the stratosphere

· Set a new world record for absolute altitude for this class of UAS at 76,100ft.

· Secured and exercised FAA flight approvals operating inside the US National Airspace System (NAS)

· Demonstrated successful flight with multiple payload integrations and tested new OPAZ payload, streaming Earth observation data

· Proved Zephyr can operationalize the stratosphere, achieving some 2,435 total flight hours and demonstrating precise stratospheric manoeuvrability and station-keeping over points on the ground.

Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »


Timmymagic wrote:- "plus associated lighter test aircraft" - Sounds like previous Zephyr generations being used alongside to prove flight control laws
From the video it looks like this took place as well.

Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

Lomger view of takeoff and climb out


Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

Flight testing was in Yuma, Arizona. 2 Zephyr 8's were in use and in the air at the same time (N467TN and N469TN) along with another earlier Zephyr variant (I believe it was the Zephyr 7)...both the 8's are listed as owned by Bank of Utah Trustee...at least one of the two is UK MoD owned so this must be related to civil registration for testing purposes in the US.



Some examples of imagery captured. It's really rather good...


Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

Just a quick note on the imagery quality. Zephyr 8 in its original configuration delivered imagery to NIIRS 6 standard. It should now be capable of delivering NIIRS 8 level imagery..

NIIRS 6 Imagery standards
  • Distinguish between models of small/medium helicopters (e.g., HELIX A from HELIX B from HELIX C, HIND D from HIND E, HAZE A from HAZE B from HAZE C).

    Identify the shape of antennas on EW/GCI/ACQ radars as parabolic, parabolic with clipped comers or rectangular.

    Identify the spare tire on a medium-sized truck.

    Distinguish between SA-6, SA- I 1, and SA- 17 missile airframes.

    Identify individual launcher covers (8) of vertically launched SA-N-6 on SLAVA-class vessels.

    Identify automobiles as
NIIRS 8 Imagery standards
  • Identify the rivet lines on bomber aircraft.

    Detect horn-shaped and W-shaped antennas mounted atop BACKTRAP and BACKNET radars.

    Identify a hand-held SAM (e.g., SA-7/14, REDEYE, STINGER).

    Identify joints and welds on a TEL or TELAR.

    Detect winch cables on deck-mounted cranes.

    Identify windshield wipers on a vehicle.
I expect the goal is to get to NIIRS 9 in due course...which is really, really useful.

NIIRS 9 imagery standards
  • Differentiate cross-slot from single slot heads on aircraft skin panel fasteners.

    Identify small light-toned ceramic insulators that connect wires of an antenna canopy.

    Identify vehicle registration numbers (VRN) on trucks.

    Identify screws and bolts on missile components.

    Identify braid of ropes (I to 3 inches in diameter).

    Detect individual spikes in railroad ties.

albedo
Member
Posts: 151
Joined: 27 Jun 2017, 21:44
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by albedo »

This all looks impressive. But unless I'm missing something, it does seem very dependent on clear skies for most (all?) of its imagery. So, fine for the Arizona desert, but less so for eg wintertime NW Atlantic conditions.

RunningStrong
Member
Posts: 748
Joined: 06 May 2015, 20:52

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by RunningStrong »

albedo wrote:This all looks impressive. But unless I'm missing something, it does seem very dependent on clear skies for most (all?) of its imagery. So, fine for the Arizona desert, but less so for eg wintertime NW Atlantic conditions.
But that's always been the case with satellite photography. The Zephyr doesn't intend to solve that, but does make it a more versatile capability.

albedo
Member
Posts: 151
Joined: 27 Jun 2017, 21:44
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by albedo »

RunningStrong wrote: But that's always been the case with satellite photography. The Zephyr doesn't intend to solve that, but does make it a more versatile capability.
To be clear, I'm not knocking it at all, just trying to understand the limitations. But a satellite can accept much heavier sensors and so perhaps with more specialist infra-red sensors, maybe radar sensors etc, can maybe see through more of the cloud layers. Whereas for Zephyr then sensor weight is presumably at a premium.

So if your area of interest is under high atmospheric pressure (when the skies are more likely to be clear) then Zephyr could be a prime asset. But less so for low pressure areas. I suppose one counter argument is that if Zephyr can remain on station for days (weeks?) at a time then the probability must increase sharply of getting at least one good ground image in that time. But you just can't be sure of getting a decent image at any given date/time.

Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

albedo wrote:This all looks impressive. But unless I'm missing something, it does seem very dependent on clear skies for most (all?) of its imagery. So, fine for the Arizona desert, but less so for eg wintertime NW Atlantic conditions.
Just like all imagery systems. But there are lots of other payloads in development, including 2 types of radar and LIDAR. Other payloads include ESM, Comms Re-broadcast, wide area IR and others.

RunningStrong
Member
Posts: 748
Joined: 06 May 2015, 20:52

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by RunningStrong »

albedo wrote:
RunningStrong wrote: But that's always been the case with satellite photography. The Zephyr doesn't intend to solve that, but does make it a more versatile capability.
To be clear, I'm not knocking it at all, just trying to understand the limitations. But a satellite can accept much heavier sensors and so perhaps with more specialist infra-red sensors, maybe radar sensors etc, can maybe see through more of the cloud layers. Whereas for Zephyr then sensor weight is presumably at a premium.

So if your area of interest is under high atmospheric pressure (when the skies are more likely to be clear) then Zephyr could be a prime asset. But less so for low pressure areas. I suppose one counter argument is that if Zephyr can remain on station for days (weeks?) at a time then the probability must increase sharply of getting at least one good ground image in that time. But you just can't be sure of getting a decent image at any given date/time.
Zephyr can also manoeuvre around cloud cover when it's not blanket to find a good angle to observe. Sat systems are somewhat limited in that respect.

But you're right, it's all a trade off.

NickC
Member
Posts: 969
Joined: 01 Sep 2017, 14:20
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by NickC »

Of interest the Breaking Defense article on the the US Army major exercise "Project Convergence 2021 Kicks Off; Showcases 110 New Technologies" and one of their main focuses will be their own ISR so as to get timely targeting info for their new generation long range artillery and missiles (the new Precision Strike Missile (PrSM) tested last week, yet to be confirmed it achieved its max range of 500km).

Perhaps why Zephyr back in the US, US Army interest, Project Convergence will include testing the Zephyr following its recent testing at Yuma.

From <https://breakingdefense.com/2021/10/pro ... hnologies/>

Timmymagic
Donator
Posts: 2293
Joined: 07 May 2015, 23:57
United Kingdom

Re: Airbus Zephyr - HAPS

Post by Timmymagic »

NickC wrote:Perhaps why Zephyr back in the US, US Army interest, Project Convergence will include testing the Zephyr following its recent testing at Yuma.
Possibly, but I suspect the reason is due to the break up of a Zephyr on launching at Airbus' site in Australia (not at Woomera). I wonder if they discovered some adverse conditions around there that have paused work. Bringing 3 sets of Zephyr over (2x Zephyr 8 and 1x Zephyr 7) does indicate somethings up. They might be trying to catch up the test programme to previous set goals that were paused due to the crash.

Post Reply