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Lockheed Martin's Stalker VXE Unmanned Aircraft Completes Record Flight

Lockheed Martin put its Stalker VXE unmanned aerial system (UAS) through its paces. The aircraft has recently completed a 39-hour record flight, demonstrating its capabilities.
Lockheed Martin Stalker VXE 6 photos
Lockheed Martin Stalker VXELockheed Martin Stalker VXELockheed Martin Stalker VXELockheed Martin Stalker VXELockheed Martin Stalker VXE
Stalker is a small, versatile UAS that's currently in use by Special Forces all around the world. With a wingspan of 18 ft (4.8 meters), it offers long-endurance imaging capabilities and can take off and land in hostile environments, providing operators greater operational mission flexibility.

The aircraft can carry up a payload of 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg). It's equipped with tilt, zoom electro-optical, infrared cameras and has the ability to identify and track targets in all weather conditions, both during the day and at night.

Stalker gets its power from a Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) that uses propane to stay in the air for more than eight hours. It can achieve a maximum speed of 58 mph (93 kph) and climb to 12,000-ft (3,658-meter) altitudes. To meet the mission's requirements, the system can also be modified to be battery-powered. This allows it to operate for around four hours.

But during the recent demonstration, the aircraft managed to push its limits. On February 18th, Stalker completed a demonstration at the Santa Margarita Ranch in California and stayed in the air for 39 hours, 17 minutes, and 7 seconds, establishing a new record in the Group 2 category (which defines UAS that are in the 11 – 55 lbs/ 5 – 25 kg weight class).

This was possible because Lockheed used a modified Stalker VXE for the flight that was equipped with an external fuel tank mounted under one of the wings. The data collected during the record flight provided critical information that will be utilized to improve the Stalker VXE's capabilities to adapt to different missions in the future.

The flight has been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the World Air Sports Federation, and it's currently awaiting certification.

press release
 
 
 
 
 

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