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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.

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