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AFRL Conducts Initial Testing for ‘Ultra LEAP’ Long-Endurance UAS

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The Air Force Research Laboratory’s innovation unit has tested an unmanned aerial system designed for long distances and fitted with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technologies.

The Air Force said Sunday the AFRL’s Center for Rapid Innovation began conducting initial flight tests for the Ultra Long Endurance Aircraft Platform at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah earlier this year. A continuous demonstration took place last week ahead of subsequent tests to assess the platform’s flight endurance.

Ultra LEAP features anti-jam GPS technology, a satellite-based command-and-control platform, an ISR data relay link and other elements designed to support autonomous takeoff and landing.

“Ultra LEAP mission is a significant milestone in solving the tyranny of distance problem for ISR systems,” said Alok Das, senior scientist at AFRL and director of CRI. He noted that the team conducted the two-and-a-half-day test after 10 months of development activities. 

AFRL expects the UAS to be ready for operational fielding by 2020. The lab also plans to conduct CRI efforts focused on UAS technologies designed for short takeoff and landing distances and nontraditional deployment locations.