Lockheed Martin Skunk Works demonstrated the endurance capabilities of a specially configured Lockheed Martin Stalker VXE unmanned aerial system (UAS) through what it said was a world record endurance flight on Feb. 18, 2022, at the Santa Margarita Ranch in California.
The flight establishes a new record in the Group 2 (5 to <25-kilogram) category with a flight time of 39 hours, 17 minutes and 7 seconds. The flight has been submitted to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the world sanctioning body for aviation records, through its U.S. affiliate, the National Aeronautic Association, for certification.
A production Stalker VXE was modified for this flight with an external, wing-mounted fuel tank. The flight provided valuable insight for improvements to Stalker VXE aimed at scaling its mission capabilities for the future.
Stalker VXE’s endurance, operating envelope, modular payload compliance, vertical take-off and landing capability, and open system architecture allow it to execute missions while maintaining a small operational footprint and crew.
To achieve this world record flight time, Lockheed Martin partnered with:
- Edge Autonomy as a developer and original equipment manufacturer of unmanned systems, including the Stalker VXE aircraft.
- Adaptive Energy to develop fuel cell technology, investing in power sources and testing innovative implementation techniques for field operations.
- Composite Technology Development Inc. to build a light-weight external wing tank.
- Precision Integrated Programs to provide flight operations support.
- Clovis Area Modelers to provide FAI official contest directors to continuously monitor and adjudicate the world record flight for ratification.