PALMDALE, Calif., Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A ruggedized version of the Stalker unmanned aerial system has been introduced by Lockheed Martin.
The Stalker eXtreme Endurance UAS quadruples Stalker's flight endurance to 8-plus hours without affecting the mobility of the unmanned system or the flexibility of its payload capabilities.
"Missions requiring real-time, eyes-on a situation for extended periods of time, like border patrol, pipeline surveillance and special operations can now be conducted by a small UAS versus a larger, more costly system," said Tom Koonce, Lockheed Martin's Stalker program manager.
"The convenience and lower cost of a small UAS combined with extended endurance is a true game-changer."
The Stalker XE system is powered by Ultra Electronics' pioneering hybrid energy source using a propane fuel cell with a small, conventional lithium polymer battery to handle power peaks.
This long-endurance fuel cell technology was developed through a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored effort led by Lockheed Adaptive Materials Inc., which is a division of Ultra Electronics Holdings, PLC.
The DARPA project culminated with a rigorous flight test program including numerous back-to-back, long-endurance intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, high-altitude and high wind flights proving that the Stalker UAS met or exceeded all technical and performance milestones.
The complete Stalker XE system includes two aircraft, fuel cells, command-and-control ground station, support equipment, and small propane fuel storage tank.
The standard air vehicle sensor is a modular, dual daylight and nighttime imager that allows persistent surveillance during the visual/thermal transition from day to night.