Skunk Works’ Stalker VXE unmanned aerial system (UAS) completed a world record endurance flight on February 18, at the Santa Margarita Ranch in California.
According to Lockheed Martin, the flight established a new record in the Group 2 (5 to <25-kilogram) category of UAS with a flight time of 39 hours, 17 minutes and 7 seconds.
The company submitted the flight to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world sanctioning body for aviation records, through its US affiliate, the National Aeronautic Association, for certification.
The production Stalker VXE was modified for this record-setting flight with an external, wing-mounted fuel tank. The flight provided valuable insight for improvements to Stalker VXE aimed at scaling its mission capabilities for the future, Lockheed Martin said.
To achieve this flight time, Lockheed Martin partnered with Edge Autonomy as a developer and original equipment manufacturer of high-performance unmanned systems, including the Stalker VXE aircraft.
Adaptive Energy developed fuel cell technology, while Composite Technology Development developed a light-weight external wing tank for the UAS.
Precision Integrated Programs provided flight operations support and Clovis Area Modelers provided FAI official contest directors to continuously monitor and adjudicate the world record flight for ratification.
Stalker is an all-weather system with a 12-foot wingspan, capable of providing long-endurance imaging capability through image stabilized pan, tilt, zoom on electro-optical, infrared, low-light and high-def imagers, along with an image tracker.