Airbus Defence and Space has unveiled the new Zephyr S HAPS (high altitude pseudo-satellite) to the world at Farnborough Air Show on Monday July 16th 2018.

This is the first production aircraft of the Zephyr programme, previous units being research and development prototypes.

The solar–electric, stratospheric Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) harnesses the sun’s rays, running exclusively on solar power, above the weather and conventional air traffic. It is filling a capability gap complementary to satellites, UAVs and manned aircraft to provide affordable and persistent local satellite-like services.

Named after the late Chris Kelleher, the inventor, the opening of production facilities is part of a significant focus by Airbus on the programme. The Kelleher facility represents the first serial HAPS assembly line worldwide.

“Today represents a significant milestone in this programme. The facility is home to the world’s leading High-Altitude Pseudo Satellite and will be a showcase location, linking to our operational flight bases around the world,” said Dirk Hoke, CEO of Defence and Space.

This programme milestone comes as the aircraft is currently flying after having departed for its maiden flight from Arizona in the US a few days ago. This flight is being supported by both the UK and US governments. The UK Ministry of Defence is the first customer.

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