British firm QinetiQ will today announce a major contract to design and build an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that will act as an alternative to more expensive satellites or manned aircraft.

The aircraft will be incorporated into a Verhaert system known as Mercator which has a wingspan of 16m and weighs only 27kg.

The high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAV will be able to fly at 60,000ft (18,300m) for months at a time and will provide a highly accurate and low cost monitoring craft for purposes such as flood management, disaster relief, fire spotting and environmental and agricultural monitoring.


QinetiQ Mercator project manager Paul Davey says: "QinetiQ has a heritage of more than 50 years in the development of space technology and by bringing this technology down into the atmosphere we can add value in an increasingly wide range of fields. Mercator has the potential to be a real game-changer in earth observation and offer real improvements in the understanding and management of such things as developing humanitarian and environmental situations."

Source: Flight Daily News