DarkStar Makes First Flight
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May 8, 1996 DoD's latest unmanned reconnaissance air vehicle did what it's supposed to do during a 20-minute test flight, according to DoD officials.
The vehicle completed preprogrammed basic flight maneuvers, successfully executing a fully autonomous flight from takeoff to landing using the Global Positioning System, officials said.
DarkStar, also known as the Tier III Minus, is a high-altitude, endurance unmanned air vehicle designed for reconnaissance in highly defended areas. It has a range of 500 nautical miles and can loiter over a target area more than eight hours at an altitude of more than 45,000 feet.
The test flight March 29 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., marked the start of a test program to evaluate basic performance, including high-resolution synthetic aperture radar and electro-optical payloads, officials said. NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards is conducting the flight tests for the Advanced Research Projects Agency. At the completion of these tests, a series of technical demonstrations will be conducted.