AUVSI: Imagine a featherweight aircraft built of composites boasting an enormous 160 foot wing, swathed in solar cells that can take off at 20 mph and remain aloft for five years.

Yes, five years. The plane would fly at 65,000 feet, above most air traffic aside from the odd U-2 zooming past. It would, without a doubt, be the loneliest plane in history.

The aircraft, known as the Solara, and its company Titan Aerospace, were unveiled here at the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, the world’s largest trade show for unmanned planes, vehicles and ships.

I spoke with Chief Technology Officer Max Yaney, clearly jazzed by all the attention his two-year-old firm was getting, nervously awaiting one of his first TV interviews. The plane, inspired in part by work done by Paul MacCready, builder of the various solar-powered Pathfinder aircraft, has been made possible by “a confluence of three” factors, Yaney told me: lighter, more efficient solar technology; better composites; and improvements to battery weight and power.


  • M&S

    See: SEE. As Single Event Effects.
    Various ions, pions, muons and other heavy particle radiation forms that occur when energetic UV and corpuscular solar radiation striking the upper atmosphere knock off charged particle chunks from nitrogen/oxygen atoms and these begin to hit aircraft avionics with increasing frequency over 35,000 feet. Where they act like the veritable bull in the china shop, blasting unintended circuit pathway connections between ever smaller architecture features which end up slagging very, VERY, expensive
    Now maybe they have fixed this by now, I dunno. Active Plasma Shielding of electronics has been a goal for a long time. But last I heard, it took quite a thick coating of precious metal EM seal to even slow the big particles down and gold ain’t light.
    More weight is going to start eating your endurance as platform survivability and/or station time persistence (moving away from predicted high solar activity areas) factors as well as reducing various MEP or Mission Equipment Packages active systems weights into smaller and smaller units which now have to be dismounted and replaced by going back down through CAT bands to land.
    Every time you go up or down, is another chance for ‘unexpected head winds’ to turn your toy into big confetti.
    Can you get a 5 year reliable C2ISR node capability, on-station? Well, we got 1.28 years out of the X-37 with no problems and it was actually in orbit being fried by CBR all the time.
    I would tend to look at the ability to build independent paramilitary networks and sensor constellations in civilian airspace a little leerily but it should be doable, it’s just whether you can get useful range of mission capabilities out of a platform built like a dragon fly.
    One other thing to keep in mind: provided the target is generally cooperative, in terms of low maneuvering potential on predictable ground track sensor slants, modern digital autopilot technology can be adopted to make medium level S2A threats quite capable of shooting down even HALE platforms.
    The Israelis moved a modified HAWK up onto a hilltop in Lebanon to bag a MiG-25 that wasn’t looking for the threat as Israeli F-15s broomed it south into the HAWK’s envelope.
    The USMC took that same basic capability and provided an interim TMD intercept option on their MIM-23s up to about 70K feet.
    This in a missile which was originally WEZ’d at about 40,000ft total slant at medium/low-levels.
    It would be just too bad if we became dependent on having C2ISR provided by paper towel tube and saran wrap level composites only to find we had a real combat environment where the enemy was firing ‘ye olde fashioned’ steel and iron and suddenly half our constellation vanished.
    Of course, if they are intending this for ‘civil use’ applications then the ‘disaster victims’ might not have access to real warfighter tech…

    • CrazyEddy

      We’re DOOMED!!!!!!

    • Blackdeep

      It has an electromagnetic field around the avionics. The field works the same way the electromagnetic field does around the earth. It is low voltage but strong enough to cause radiation and other such nuisances to flow along the lines of resolution preventing it from harming the electronic components. Whack it hard enough and it is still toast, but for accumulative effects it keep thing down to a minimum.

    • Curtis James

      Aww, just wrap some chicken wire around it.

      • M&S

        SEE is not EMP, Faraday Cages don’t work on heavy particles, they blast right through like a bullet to paper.
        A closer comparison would be the gamma/xray effects of nuclear blast as ionizing radiation.
        You either tighten up the gaps between the chicken wire down to the atomic level and absorb the ‘bullets’ like a SAPI plate (which is why the gold or similar absorber is so heavy, because it is so dense).
        Or you supply something which can strip the energy from the particle through polar despin and effectively transfer it’s energy as burnout into a regenerative field effect like a cold plasma sheath.
        At least that’s my take on what the public domain says.

  • EricPamler

    No one cares about your BULLSHIT analysis….Don’t you have something better to do M&S?

    • 10579

      Testy are we, a mind is a terrible thing to waste. afraid you could possibly learn something?

  • Mithat

    Thanks for the announcement. It really takes my breathe away. If you’re interested here are some cool F-35 photos:

    F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Pictures

    • beelp

      Thank you, Mithat.

  • Jack Everett

    Another pig in a poke for our bloated military pigs.

    • Jayare2020

      Did you give any thought to how much can be saved by having these relatively cheap drones surveil large areas from high above. Fewer manned patrols needed on the ground, and fewer of the more expensive to operate liquid fuel powered drones.

      • PolicyWonk

        This is an incredibly important piece of work, especially given the Chinese anti-satellite tests. If the satellites go away, its an awfully good idea to have a backup – and given the loiter times these babies have – it could become vital.

      • 10579

        that sounds like a liberals indepth to having another one of obama’s policies enlarged,unemployment. put more people out of work as long as it ain’t them

  • Phil

    Traveling in one of those let’s me out of the picture. I weigh 275 pounds. You don’t suppose they could make one to fit me, do you? I like to fly but I can’t afford it.

    • d

      its for surveillance you moron

  • visavis101

    This plane would make a great drone to patrol our boarders 24/7 dispatching patrols to pick up law breakers as they attempt to cross our boarders.

    • Elroy_Jetson

      Unfortunately, our Government does not care to ‘spy’ on those who want to get here, just those of us who already live here.

      • Retrucker

        YEP” there goes our privacy !!!

        • ginnarr

          if your on the internet, you privacy went out the door the day you went into the cyber space door…

      • Mark Samuels

        Guess you have not been around the 1400 mile border with Mexico lately. We have intensive security, foot, horse, 4×4 and air patrols around the clock. We have gound sensors, and camera’s covering every square inch of the border. How else do you think we caugh 2 million illegals over the past 5 years.

        • Jayare2020

          If there was no illegal activity on the border by those who wish to ignore it, there would be no need for anything more than the occasional sign post. Unfortunately, the pressure from outside on those responsible for enforcing immigration rules and laws makes all the enforcement activities you mention necessary.

        • ginnarr

          caught 2 million and 11 million still got across… not bad consitering the area and no of people we have on partrol

          • Joe Don’tblow

            11 million DID NOT get across in the last 5 years…look it up~! They came across under Bush term!!

          • ginnarr

            what has bush got to do with anything,, they still came across..

          • morgan

            That’s not true. I have family near the border and illegals come right into their yard.

        • Ray Brown

          What about the millions that got through the safety net and
          are here and sucking up our resources everyday and they also have published
          documentation available on most street corners in Mexico telling people how to
          apply for welfare and Medicare once they arrive on our side of the protected
          borders and worst of all they get everything for free and pay what taxes???

          • beelp

            Ray, your post has been, and will be ignored by the Lame Street Media

          • morgan

            The left would rather ignore those facts. They pretend that the illegals are hard working nice law abiding people

          • BarryG

            They line up everyday on the street and do all kinds of sh*t work very inexpensively.

          • HI

            ur taxes don’t go to spending at the federal level

        • Bryant Samuel

          Mark then how is it that there are twenty million of them in Maryland alone !

          • kabegg

            You do realize the entire population of Maryland consists of approximately 5.9 million people?

        • morgan

          I have an aunt and cousins down there who would disagree with you. They see them cross their land all the time. Guess you have been brainwashed by the leftist sheep.

        • nona

          and most of the two millions were multiple repeated offenders…big deal to just send they back, they should be punished like Mexicans punish illegals in Mexico….near death w/o appeal..

          • Adam Knapp

            When you advocate for the use of such force on others, always remember those tools can be turned back on you at a moment’s notice.

          • Grant Kitahata

            Yea if I was to enter a country illegally where there is a perfectly legal alternative I would not expect to be given numerous rights, only the most basic rights to life and liberty. A border with harsh punishments would prevent future illegal immigration and it would only allow those in who are willing to accept and American identity.

        • rmrmsix

          It’s the other 25MILLION that got over before then we have issues with.. They are sucking the $$$ from every program in the government!!!

        • M&S

          Catch And Release as proof that Obama is ‘serious about immigration reform’ in anticipation of an Amnesty when the supposed ’10-12 million’ illegals manifests as 20-30 -and- they get family reunification rights to essentially an infinite chain migration of more.
          All for the social reengineering of America as a Democratic nanny state where the ‘minorities’ are the majority beneficiaries and our leaders actively seek the dissolution and replacement of it’s founding culture.
          No thanks.
          If, instead, you show me the moral intent to stop the above by respecting the existing laws about defending America from threats foreign and domestic.
          Enforcing the correct, legal, interpretation of the Constitutional Laws which allow for birthright citizenship only in specific conditions -exactly the opposite- of those applied.
          A commonsense understanding that every immigrant who depresses wages and serves as a tax-transfer suppression of middle class status of living as a deliberate inhibition against our joining the Weath Class in fact dooms this nation to economic meltdown into debt.
          And finally, show me an acknowledgement that third world societies do not bring ‘vitality’ to first world nations, but rather recreate their own cultural norms as Mexico City, Kibera and Dharavi.
          And we’ll talk.
          About why Obama promised Guardsmen who never in fact showed up on the Border.
          And why there are threats that if we don’t do this through Congress it will be enacted as a function of Executive Order fiat.
          Our country is OURS. Only so long as we fight for it’s ownership.

        • Rotten Doodoo

          Apparently they missed a few (million).

        • Frank J. Austin

          Yeah, I built a fence down there back in the early ’90’s too. SD Sector. Is it still there ? It doesn’t matter, the cholo’s still get through.

      • beelp

        And, Elroy, only those who live here LEGALLY.

      • HI

        martial law is coming soon the fema camps r ready

      • Arnie Arnie

        You probably have a Facebook account and post hourly what you are doing in your loser life.

      • ElderKing

        they do spy on those who want to get here and do us harm. part of the way they do it is to use a large dragnet which includes ordinary citizens. too bad. you either want good security or you don’t. there is no magic button that lets us know who the bad guys are and what they’re thinking.

        what did people ask after 9/11 and after the boston marathon bombing? “why didn’t they government stop it?” Well this is the price to stop it. if you don’t want to pay that price then be willing to pay the other price.

    • ginnarr

      no no no under the obama administration we could not violate thier rights by spying on them… whats got into you…

    • Waanc Fin Seng Zeuz

      Let them come would be good fertilizers for our soil!

    • M&S

      Take a look at Gorgon Stare and Argus IS. Both wide area persistent stare surveillance systems which, from an altitude of 15-20K, essentially network multiple digital camera SFPAs to provide massive resolution as dwell time improvements across city sized areas rather than soda straw equivalents.

      The problem is that Gorgon Stare is a two-pod system which runs about 1,000lbs and ARGUS IS is a single, centerline, canoe which is at least as much.

      While the MQ-1 Predator (1,000lbs of fuel for 30+ hours) and MQ-9 Reaper (4,000lbs for about half as long) systems could both mount these systems, even the Supersized Solara 60 cannot. Not with only a 250lb MEP margin.

      While taking a sensor up to 60-70K also imposes range resolution and weather penetration issues of it’s own (the latest Mariner/Guardian MQ-9 with the extended, de-icing, wet wing is actually fairly weather proof).

      Solara 60 is an el-cheapo system which is designed to make it easy for corporate level users to own and operate such devices with a minimum of Federal oversight as Constitutional Protection.

      If you want to stop illegals at the border, first you must prove willed intent to do so.

      Enforcement of employer penalties for not using E-Verify, bulldozed trenches with mines. groundbased GMTI radar with Spike Missle standoff systems. Cutoff of all foodstamps and housing aid to those who cannot not prove legal residency. Correct, legal, interpretation of the birth right citizenship clause. Revocation of foreign remittance privileges. And massive trade tariffs as Mexico’s loss of MFN status on the order of a 1 million dollar per day penalty for every “Whereever he is, a citizen of Mexico is still a Mexican!” illegal on our soil would all do this better than an airborne burgler alarm.

      At which point you would notice that not only were we preventing the 1 million per year invasion of our nation by a hostile outside, highly criminal, pillaging army. But also that the 20-30 million illegals already resident would be headed back South withou any need for an Eisenhower style Operation Wetback to remove them (and thus no justification for militarization of internal airspace as eyes-on-Americans).

      One cannot have a Welfare State and an Open Borders one. Period.

      But. Congress and the POTUS no longer work for the people that elected them. Someone else is cutting their checks. And those other people are the ones who will be buying these types of elcheapo UAVs on the basis of having a separate C4ISR network similar to the Nazi shadow government which ran Germany under Bormann via local burgermeisters from long before The War.

      Without the bond of trust as willed intent by a government responsible to the people who elected them, we are left with few options outside the DOI’s paragraph about unredressed complaints as a duty to sedition.

      And unfortunately, that also plays right into the hands of the civilian DHS as paramilitary control freaks operating beyond the law.

    • ac

      Yes, no boarders here, please. Only paying guests.

      If you’re going to decry the flood of ‘law breakers’ crossing our boarders (sic), at least do it in proper English.

  • disqus_GOTHZbVHu7

    powered by the stars, remind me of SGU, this should be named Destiny

  • jamiemvanlooy

    Lightweight, powered by the sun, and sharing a name with a crappy Toyota four door. Couldn’t these geniuses come up with something more creative?

    • Rotten Doodoo

      Could you? I doubt it.

      • ginnarr

        or call it obamanation

    • ginnarr

      they could have shared the name with a crappy president and calle it ,,
      allahs revenger..

  • Ed Forney

    Boys and their toys. No landing gear. So after five years, kaboom.

    • tom

      after 5 years, it would be trash anyway…outdated and discarded….

  • Brian

    The CIA and NSA would position it over the U.S. to spy on us.

  • SteveK

    “Thanks to the better batteries and solar panels the aircraft can generate up to 100 watts of power at night” The heck with flying. If Titan Aerospace can do that, it will be the biggest advance since P.T. Barnum.

  • SS BdM Fuhress ‘Savannah

    Don’t let it be lonely, make 2. A him and her, or him and him or her and her. Adam and Eve is the names, or Adam and Allen or Adona and Eve. And the Daddy one could carry a 250 pound bomb. Or the mom playing the daddy. Not the daddy playing the mom. Isn’t tech great, rather expensive but great.

  • think&tinker

    If they made the prop out of a clear composite, the video would be nicer. I know software combined with the right coloring on the backside of the prop can hide the problem but it will also obscure the actual video source.(the view). It is big enough now to carry a small passenger with food, drink and a hatch for your “privy” needs. Not to mention all those nasty ninja tools.

    • 10579

      hey “d” here’s anotherone.

  • Bryant Samuel

    If it is possible to send one these to mars it has a win environment and sunlight there. But could it carry all the electronics that is needed to send back photo’s. This could map every square mile of mars.

    • 10579

      is there an atmosphere on mars to hold the thing up? and it won’t fly from earth to mars in space because of the vacuum of space.

  • VonHoltz

    I’m placing my order for one, now! Then I can check up on what my government is doing! (Area 51) :).

  • Mark

    One good strong thermal could turtle that thing or Break that thing in half…..

  • govsurveillance

    a potentially great toy enabling this pernicious government to snoop on its own citizens.

  • SpaceTech

    Blah, blah, blah OK build one and fly it and prove how long and how high this bird can fly. I bet it is no where near the stats they claim.

  • Leon Engelun

    Iran has already claimed they have several of them aloft already I heard.

  • James Banks

    Did you know Tesla came up with an electric powered lightweight aircraft that could have flown at extreme heights where oxygen was limited or non existant, and it could fly without worrying about solar power as the sun is not always up, and it never had to stop to be refueled. The technology for remote control was the only setback. Guess what? Edison stole the technology, patented it, and gave it to the U.S. govt. for virtually nothing all in the name of greed. His power company would have gone out of business if Tesla’s electric motor that provided free energy with very little start up cost, unlike solar, wind, or hydro power. It operated off an endless supply of high powered electromagnetic energy that is thrown off by the earth as it rotates on its axis. This “new” tech is actually archaic and rather overpriced. Come on America. You went to the moon almost over 40 years ago. Is this the best you can do?

    • Adam Knapp

      Which aircraft is this? Tesla was great, and Edison did steal from him (so did Marconi and a bunch of others), but I’ve never seen anything of Tesla designing aircraft – that really wasn’t his field.

  • Phil Blank

    Am I missing something?
    The plane in the photo is not the same plane in the video.
    As for all the spy cameras that have popped-up, they are useless.
    They only see the person who caused the damage after the damage is done!
    They don’t prevent anyone from dying or stop the damage!

  • Holder E

    Let’s track the new black panthers with it

  • ed

    Thanks to the better batteries and solar panels the aircraft can generate up to 100 watts of power at night. How much can it generate in the daytime?

  • liephman88

    mobile cell phone tower for disaster areas, good idea. This can be a great platform for so many uses.

  • Rothhammer1

    Couldn’t a dirigible could do the same, only better, at lower altitude?

  • Mary Sousa


  • thesparky1

    The main purpose for this aircraft is commercial communications. It could feasibly support theater wide battle communications but Iridium does that quite well today. No, this is for increasing cellular telephone capacity along with the companion wifi. It would also support the airline based internet services and make it much cheaper to deliver. Most of all, in a time of a disaster like a hurricane, earthquake, or wildfire, these planes can be deployed to provide additional trunking nodes for relief agencies. Very often public safety radios stop working when towers are compromised. These planes can be quickly programmed to take over for disabled nodes.