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Britain buying solar-powered Zephyr 8 drones from Airbus

Britain's Ministry of Defense has ordered Zephyr 8 solar-powed drones from Airbus Defense and Space.
By Richard Tomkins   |   Feb. 18, 2016 at 1:08 PM
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TOULOUSE, France, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Airbus Defense and Space has received an order from Britain's Ministry of Defense for its solar-powered Zephyr 8 unmanned aerial vehicle.

The Zephyr 8, described by Airbus as a high-altitude pseudo-satellite craft that provides persistent surveillance and communications links for about a month at a time before it needs to land for refurbishment.

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Its altitude ceiling is about 65,000 feet. Its wing span is about 72 feet, and it weighs about 30 percent less than its predecessor, the Zephyr 7.

Solar panels on the aircraft charge its batteries from sunlight during the day and maintain the aircraft's high altitude at night.

Airbus said Britain ordered two of the aircraft. Other contract details were not disclosed.

The first Zephyr 8 ordered is being built at an Airbus facility in England and is due to fly in mid-2017.

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