Laser power beaming from LaserMotive extends Lockheed's Stalker UAV flight time

July 20, 2012
Bethesda, MD--Lockheed Martin used a LaserMotive laser power beaming system to extend the Stalker UAV flight time to more than 48 hours.

Bethesda, MD--Lockheed Martin (LMT) used a LaserMotive (Kent, WA) laser power beaming system to extend the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS)more commonly called an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAVflight time to more than 48 hours, which represents a flight-duration improvement of 2400%. Stalker is a small, silent UAV used by Special Operations Forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions.

The Stalker UAV was modified for the indoor flight test to incorporate LaserMotive's proprietary system that makes it possible to wirelessly transfer energy over long distances using laser light to provide a continual source of power to the UAV system. At the conclusion of the flight test, held in a wind tunnel, the battery on the Stalker UAS had more energy stored than it did at the beginning of the test. The test was concluded only because the flight had already surpassed the initial endurance goals set by the team.

"We're pleased with the results of this test. Laser power holds real promise in extending the capabilities of Stalker," said Tom Koonce, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works Stalker program manager. "A ground-to-air recharging system like this allows us to provide practically unlimited flight endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles that the Stalker vehicle can fulfill."

"This test is one of the final steps in bringing laser-powered flight to the field," said Tom Nugent, president of LaserMotive. "By enabling in-flight recharging, this system will ultimately extend capabilities, improve endurance and enable new missions for electric aircraft. The next step in proving the reality of this technology is to demonstrate it outdoors in an extended flight of the Stalker."

Lockheed Martin is a global security company that employs about 123,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The Corporation's net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

SOURCE: Lockheed Martin; www.lockheedmartin.com

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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