Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., is the place where history was made.
And that tradition continues in the 21st century as the Vanilla Unmanned aircraft made history at the base Oct. 2, with a successful eight-day long continuous flight.
The official flight time was 8 days, 50 minutes, and 47 seconds, and covered 12,200 miles in continuous flight, breaking the world record for unrefueled, internal combustion endurance of an unmanned aircraft.
“We are extremely proud of Platform Aerospace’s historic achievement,” said Lt. Col. Adam Brooks, Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force Director. “While the world record is exciting in and of itself, it is more important that we realize what this endurance ability means for our Joint Services who need persistent ISR capabilities immediately.”
Vanilla Unmanned is a prototype aircraft designed to meet a cost-effective, airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance demand. The aircraft was created by Platform Aerospace, a small business based out of Hollywood, Md. Platform Aerospace partnered with the 412th Test Wing’s Emerging Technologies Combined Test Force to launch the aircraft from the Rogers Dry Lakebed, Sept. 24.
“The Emerging Technologies CTF’s purpose is to assist in the development of technologies that will support future warfighter efforts,” Brooks said. “As such, we are humbled to have had the opportunity to support this monumental effort on behalf of the warfighters who will benefit from tomorrow’s technology today.”
Vanilla executed multiple test sorties earlier this year including a prior record flight of five days of continuous flight while providing high-definition Electro-Optical/Infrared-Red video and command and control over satellite communication at beyond-line-of-sight range.
“Our goal is to get a low-cost, ultra-long endurance ISR asset to the warfighter that can carry real mission payloads. The system that flew these last three days costs less than (DOD) pays for some ordnance,” said Kurt Parsons, Platform Aerospace CEO. “It’s not just the sticker price for this record-setting system, but also a multi-day flight model with drastically reduced manning and logistics cost.”