The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded Boeing [NYSE:BA] a contract to design a fuel cell-based propulsion system for an ultra long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle.
The long-endurance UAV likely will fill a number of roles in future communication systems, as well as augment existing systems.
"This UAV technology will enable a wide variety of commercial and military applications and is a great match of our company's capabilities and expertise," said Charlie Guthrie, Boeing Unmanned Systems director of rapid prototyping and advanced concepts. "We're taking advantage of the best of Boeing by integrating expertise from our Phantom Works, Integrated Defense Systems and Commercial Airplane groups to provide an affordable, total-system solution."
During the project's first phase, the Unmanned Systems organization will lead a team to design the UAV's fuel cell-based propulsion system and complete risk-reduction studies. Boeing plans to incorporate currently available automotive fuel cell technology into the propulsion system.
In the second contract phase, scheduled for 2003, Boeing will build and demonstrate the complete propulsion system and will build and demonstrate the ultra long-endurance UAV platform that will use the propulsion system in the project's third phase.
Unmanned Systems is part of the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems organization. Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $23 billion business. It provides systems solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world's largest satellite manufacturer and a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in launch services.