An innovative laser power system’s operational potential to extend the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) flight time to exceed 48 hours was demonstrated by Lockheed Martin and LaserMotive. This extended flight duration represents an increase up to 2,400 %.
Stalker is a compact, silent UAS deployed for the past six years by Special Operations Forces for carrying out intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
According to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Stalker program manager, Tom Koonce, the company is content with the test outcome. Laser power guarantees augmenting capabilities of Stalker. This kind of ground-to-air recharging system enables offering practically unlimited flight endurance for expanding the mission profiles that can be accomplished by the Stalker vehicle.
The Stalker UAS for the indoor flight test was customized to integrate LaserMotive’s proprietary system that enables laser light-based wireless transmission of energy over long distances to deliver a continuous power source to the UAS. By the end of the flight test conducted in a wind tunnel, the built-in battery within the Stalker UAS had more energy stored compared to that at the commencement of the test. The test came to a closure as the flight had already exceeded the initial endurance goals stipulated by the team.
LaserMotive has its HQ at Kent, Washington. This private R&D company specializes in laser power beaming for various commercial applications.
Bethesda, Md-based Lockheed Martin is a global security company with 123,000 employees on a global scale. It basically carries out design, R&D, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, services and products.