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BAE Systems preparing further PHASA-35 HAPS development aircraft for 2025 first flight

Engineers prepare the PHASA-35 for a flight test. BAE Systems is building two more development aircraft, which it intends to fly from 2025. (BAE Systems)

BAE Systems is building additional Persistent High-Altitude Solar Aircraft (PHASA)-35 unmanned aircraft, which it intends to add to its development fleet.

Speaking to Janes earlier in June, Bob Davidson, CEO of BAE Systems subsidiary company Prismatic, said that two new high-altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) development aircraft are now being built for flight in 2025.

“In parallel to the flight trials activity [of the one existing PHASA-35 prototype], engineering and manufacturing activity continues here in the UK with two new development aircraft under construction for flight in 2025. Further flight trials of the existing experimental variant are planned this year in support of the development programme,” Davidson said.

BAE Systems first revealed the PHASA-35 concept it was developing in May 2018, with the ‘35' in its moniker coming from the 35 m wingspan. The company launched the development of the 150 kg PHASA-35 in partnership with a UK company, Prismatic, which it later acquired. Prismatic was also involved in the early development of the rival AALTO Zephyr.

The PHASA-35 flew for the first time in the stratosphere in early 2023, ascending to an altitude of more than 66,000 ft before landing back at Spaceport America in the US state of New Mexico. As noted at the time by BAE Systems, the test saw the PHASA-35 stay in the stratosphere for several hours, during which tests on the aircraft's connectability and various other performance parameters were conducted.

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