The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has placed an order with Airbus Defence and Space (ADS) for a Zephyr-S unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).
The MoD will acquire its third Zephyr-S, as part of £13m contract with ADS. It previously ordered two Zephyr-S variants in February.
All three ultra-lightweight UAVs are being purchased as part of MoD's Operational Concept Demonstrator (OCD) effort to assess Zephyr’s capabilities and explore its potential for use by the UK Armed Forces and other Government Departments.
The OCD trials will be carried out next year.
The additional Zephyr-S will allow the UK Government to test two airframes simultaneously.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: “Zephyr is a cutting edge, record-breaking piece of kit that will be capable of gathering constant, reliable information over vast geographical areas at a much greater level of detail than ever before.
“They are part of our plan for stronger and better defence, backed by a budget that will rise each year of this decade.
"That means more ships, more aircraft, more troops available at readiness, better equipment for special forces, more being spent on cyber, to deal with the increased threats to our country.”
Zephyr can fly for up to 45 days at a time at an altitude of up to 70,000ft.
This solar-powered high altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) fills a capability gap between satellites and UAVs, ADS said in a statement.
Image: Zephyr-S unmanned aerial vehicle. Photo: courtesy of Crown Copyright.