skip to main content

Modern Day Marine 2023: US DoD backs AeroVironment solar UAV effort

AeroVironment's Sunglider unmanned aircraft. (AeroVironment)

The US Department of Defense (DoD) recently awarded a contract to support the development of AeroVironment's high-altitude, solar-powered unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), according to officials at the US-based company.

The contract is the DoD's first for Sunglider, which has mainly been described as a commercial effort. AeroVironment envisions fielding a network of long-endurance UAVs to provide global internet service. Flying at an altitude of about 65,000 ft (19,812 m), the fixed-wing aircraft will also be capable of carrying sensors.

AeroVironment is “actively pursuing multiple other defence opportunities” for Sunglider, also known as the High-Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS), AeroVironment chairman, president, and CEO Wahid Nawabi told analysts during a 27 June earnings call. “Given the current conflicts around the world, we believe that the defence market for HAPS represents a multibillion-dollar long-term growth opportunity.”

In a 28 June interview at the Modern Day Marine event in Washington, DC, Charlie Dean, AeroVironment vice-president of global business development and marketing, declined to disclose the amount of the contract, how the money will be specifically used, or which DoD entity awarded the contract. A DoD spokesperson had no immediate comment at the time of publication.

Sunglider has been in development since 2017 and flew for the first time in 2019. Dean said AeroVironment is developing a new version of Sunglider and expects to begin flying it within a year. “You could imagine systems like this being deployed in the next couple of years,” he told Janes .

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...