Flying colours

Researchers at the US Naval Research Laboratory have completed the successful test flight of a fuel-cell-powered aircraft.

Researchers at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have completed the successful test flight of a fuel-cell-powered aircraft.

During the test flight, which took place earlier in the year, the eXperimental Fuel Cell (XFC) unmanned aerial system (UAS) was airborne for more than six hours.

NRL’s Chemistry and Tactical Electronic Warfare divisions are developing the XFC UAS as an expendable, long-endurance platform for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).

NRL, along with its fuel cell development and manufacturing partner Protonex Technology Corporation, developed the a hydrogen fuel cell that was then integrated into the folding-wing UAS.

In its final form, its developers say that the XFC will be capable of self launching from a folded configuration with a loiter speed of 30kt and a dash speed of 52kt.

The Office of Naval Research, the Department of Defense’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office and the Office of Technology Transition sponsored the research into the aircraft.

The XFC UAS was airborne for more than six hours during its test flight