Drone to be used by British military breaks flight record

A solar-powered drone to be used by the British military has set a new flight record, its developer Airbus said.

The Zephyr S broke the endurance record for an un-refuelled aircraft at 1.53pm (GMT) on Wednesday afternoon, surpassing the 14 days, 22 minutes and 8 seconds set by an older model in 2010.

The plane, which weighs around as much as an average human, cruises in the stratosphere at around 70,000 ft, and runs on solar power during the day and solar-charged batteries at night.

Soldiers' boots
The Ministry of Defence has ordered three of the drones, an Airbus spokesman said (Peter Byrne/PA)

It can be used for a range of purposes from monitoring environmental disasters to satellite communications and assisting border patrol missions.

Described by Airbus as a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite, a cross between a satellite and a drone, it has a wingspan of 25 metres and weighs around 75 kilograms.

The Ministry of Defence has ordered three, an Airbus spokesman said.

It has been in the air since setting off on its maiden flight from Arizona, in the US, on July 11.

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