Boeing Wins Vulture Unmanned Aircraft Contest

Boeing last week won an $89 million contract from DARPA to demonstrate a unmanned airplane that can operate continuously on-station in the stratosphere for a period of five years. The company will conduct this work under the agency’s Vulture II program. “That’s a daunting task, but Boeing has a highly reliable solar-electric design that will meet the challenge, said Pat O’Neil, Boeing Phantom Works Vulture II program manager. The company plans to fly its SolarEagle concept in 2014. It will remain in the upper atmosphere for 30 days, harvesting solar energy during the day that will be stored in fuel cells and used to provide power through the night. The aircraft will have highly efficient electric motors and propellers and a high-aspect-ratio, 400-foot wing. Boeing had been competing against Aurora Flight Sciences and Lockheed Martin. (DARPA release) (Boeing release)