NASA recently put a stamp of approval on the carbon fiber-based, solar electric powered small Unmanned Aircraft System (sUAS). Silent Falcon first came into the limelight back in 2012 and it seems it has really come a long way ever since.
With a flight endurance of 5+ hours on average, the newest iteration of the craft boasts a maximum range of 100 kilometers. The thin film solar cells ensure easy charging of the lithium polymer battery that is used to power the UAS.
The UAS has a wingspan of 4.4 meters, speed range of 45-90km/h, overall length of 1.9 meters and weighs 14.5 kilograms, based on the payload. A spring catapult is used to launch it and a parachute recovery system is also utilized. The duration between the arrival on site and fly time is estimated at 30 minutes.
Its manufactures say one of its distinct features is, just as the name insinuates, a lack of operating noise. The company says the sUAS is undetectable at a distance less than 100 meters above ground level.
Several payloads have been built for Silent Falcon consisting of various EO/IR sensors, ISR (intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance), a gas imaging Midwave Infrared camera, Hyperspectral camera and a spectrometer. All payloads can easily and quickly be fitted into the open bay.
Silent Falcon has various uses including disaster relief, crop and livestock monitoring, mapping and surveying, and obviously military applications.
The mesh network wave relay system technology incorporated in the system provides encrypted, voice and video network capabilities which allow the craft to communicate globally with a ground Internet connection.
Earlier this month, NASA granted Silent Falcon an Airworthiness Statement, enabling it to fully participate in the NASA UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) project organized by the Ames Research Center.
The project entails testing the craft’s ability to inform and alert other airspace users of possible threats and conflicting situations that may go BVLOS (Beyond Visual Line of Sight) and within the VLOS (Visual Line of Sight). This is largely meant to safely enable large-scale UAS operations to take place in the low-altitude airspace.
“This project is extremely important to the UAS industry and is of particular interest to us as we manufacture a long range, long endurance fixed wing UAS that was designed for BVLOS applications,’ stated John Brown, Silent Falcon UAS Technologies President & CEO.