PHASA-35® is an ultra-lightweight solar-electric High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) providing an alternative to conventional sensing and communications systems and is being developed as part of FalconWorks, a center for advanced research and development within BAE Systems’ Air sector.  

PHASA-35® features a wingspan of 35 meters and weighs only 150 kilograms. It captures the power of the sun during daylight using components made of advanced composites, advanced energy management technologies, solar electric cells, and photo-voltaic arrays. The energy is stored in rechargeable cells allowing the aircraft to sustain flight overnight, and for days and months, providing an enhanced, persistent, and stable platform for monitoring, surveillance, communications, and security applications.  

During the recent 24-hour test period, PHASA-35® reached the stratosphere, soaring to more than 66,000 feet. PHASA-35® can provide 4G and 5G communication networks from the stratosphere, potentially serving as an alternative to traditional satellite systems. These test results and capabilities open new possibilities for connectivity in other aerospace applications, as well as in supporting disaster relief efforts and border protection and more. 

“If you can get up there, and—in our case—use the sun to power some batteries and recharge each day, you don’t need a lot of energy to stay there,” said Phil Varty, business manager of UAV Systems at BAE Systems. “On the way up, we’re testing the performance of the engines and the aerodynamic drag of the aircraft to check that it’s performing as we expect. We were really pleased to see that the aircraft did match all of our predictions and indeed exceeded some of them.” 

Mr. Varty continued, explaining the benefits of PHASA-35® when compared to traditional satellites, “With one of our aircraft, we can stay over a spot for as long as the batteries allow us to.”