The vehicle took off from runway 040 at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards AFB, Calif., at 6:25 a.m. (PST). During the 20 minute flight, the vehicle achieved its planned altitude of approximately 5,000 feet and completed all preplanned basic flight maneuvers.
The system successfully executed a fully automated flight from takeoff to landing utilizing the differential Global Positioning System (GPS).
The DarkStar was developed by Lockheed Martin and Boeing under contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and the Defense Airborne Reconnaissance Office (DARO).
The DarkStar system is a high altitude endurance UAV optimized for reconnaissance in highly defended areas. It will operate within the current military force structure and with the existing command, control, communications, computer and intelligence equipment. It can operate at a range of 500 nautical miles and stay on station for greater than eight hours at an altitude greater than 45,000 feet.
The March 29 flight marked the start of a flight test program to evaluate basic system performance including the high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) and Electro-optical (EO) payloads. At the completion of this work, the system will be prepared for a series of technical demonstrations with the Services. The program is pointing toward participating in Roving Sands '97 [military exercises] in May 1997.
The DarkStar program is managed by DARPA on behalf of DARO. The prime contractor team consists of Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, Palmdale, Calif.; Boeing Military Aircraft Division, Seattle; and Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space, Sunnyvale, Calif.
Original file name: .CNI - Dark Star
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