Boeing company Aurora Flight Sciences has secured a new contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to support the continued development of the Orion unmanned aircraft system (UAS).
The new contract is valued at $48m and provides required funding for the production of a certified version of the Orion UAS.
The certified version of the UAS will be used to easily and effectively deploy it anywhere across the globe.
The autonomous aircraft is a twin-engine, high-performance UAS that has the capability to stay up in the air for 100 hours at a time with payloads of more than 1,000lb.
The medium-altitude, long-endurance autonomous aircraft combines an efficient aerodynamic design with lightweight construction and efficient heavy fuel propulsion.
This provides the UAS with more than three times the endurance and range of the currently existing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platforms.
Work on the UAS development project will be carried out in Columbus, Mississippi, and Manassas, Virginia.
Development of the Orion aircraft commenced in 2006 and its first flight was performed in August 2013.
The UAS set an endurance record with an 80-hour, two-minute, and 52-second flight in December 2014.
A single Orion UAS can carry out a mission for five days at a stretch while carrying mission payloads of more than 1,000lb, providing a significantly extended area of coverage.
Orion can fly at an altitude between 15,000ft-30,000ft, has an endurance of more than 120 hours and can carry a payload of up to 2800lb.