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After 64 days, the Army’s drone that refused to die finally died

The solar-powered drone that exceeded expectations.

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The Airbus Zephyr S drone crashed after flying for 64 days across several states and nations, eventually setting records for every second it was in the air.

The drone appeared to have fallen from the sky and crashed into the ground in Arizona. This information comes from the publication Simple Flying, which monitored the drone’s flight over Yuma Proving Ground and the other places the Zephyr S visited. On Friday, August 19, it continued to fly normally at an altitude of 60,000–70,000 feet until gradually and abruptly losing altitude until it crashed to the ground. Data showed it descending quickly, suggesting a disastrous outcome, according to Simple Flying.

The flight terminated, but the U.S. Army’s Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing/Space Cross-Functional Team, a division of Army Futures Command, did not clarify whether a crash took place.

“Zephyr’s current flight campaign came to a conclusion after 64 days of stratospheric flight and the accomplishment of various mission goals. No one was hurt, according to a statement from the Army APNT/CFT to Task & Purpose. “Our scientists have more than 1500 hours of stratospheric mission data to analyze. The ultra long-endurance flight of this prototype provided invaluable experience that has advanced the Army’s high-altitude platform objectives. More details will be available after data analysis and aircraft retrieval.

The Airbus Zephyr S was a brand-new, unmanned, high-altitude aircraft intended for the stratosphere. It had a 75-foot wingspan and a somewhat skeleton, basic design. It was put through a test on June 15 to see how much the solar-powered rechargeable battery could withstand as well as the drone’s overall endurance. It was reportedly rather good. A milestone of 47 days in the air was previously recorded by Task & Purpose at the end of July. At that time, the Zephyr S had already shattered the previous record for longest flight, which was 25 days, 23 hours. And it continued setting records. The Army had promised to maintain it in the air as long as possible. The War Zone stated that the drone exceeded its target of flying for 60 days on its subsequent trip, which began after this one eventually came to an end.

The Zephyr even left the Yuma Proving Ground, flying over the Gulf of Mexico, across other states, across Central America, and into Belize. Even while in flight, the operators made it draw patterns above Yuma Proving Ground. Beyond its intended high altitude of operation, the Zephyr S itself could carry a variety of payloads, including cameras, radars, and jammer equipment.

Regarding the flight’s conclusion, Task & Purpose also contacted Airbus, but as of the time of publication, no response had been received.

The Zephyr S was originally scheduled to conduct another test flight over the Pacific Ocean by the Army APNT/CFT. Whether that is still the case and when such an operation would begin are still unknown.

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