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US Navy Orders Solar-Powered VTOL Drone From California Company

Drone developer Kraus Hamdani Aerospace has received a contract to deliver a solar-powered vertical takeoff and landing drone to the US Navy.

The K1000 is an ultra-long-endurance system designed with “pseudo satellite” capabilities that allow it to receive and send data between platforms on the same network.

The drone will be utilized by the US Navy and Marine Corps for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance applications.

In addition, the system will serve as a critical asset for long-range communication to sustain consistent coverage in both contested and denied signal environments.

The California-based company said that the drone will provide the agencies with a “simpler, faster, and more cost-effective” solution.

The US Marine Corps Small Unit Remote Scouting System will field the solar-enabled vehicle following its arrival.

K1000 solar-powered drone. Photo: Kraus Hamdani Aerospace

Addressing Modern Requirements

The K1000’s selection followed an assessment by the Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Air Systems Program Office based in Patuxent River, Maryland.

Kraus Hamdani noted that criteria set by the agency involved rapid transportation into theater, silent flight, enhanced maneuverability, minimized crew, and extended flight time requirements.

Additional metrics included independence of traditional runways, day and night operability, target acquisition, durability, command and control range, simplified full-motion piloting, and compliance with the US Special Operations Command’s modular payload standard.

“Today, we live with the prospect of a new era of defense technology in which autonomy and artificial intelligence will become more and more important,” Kraus Hamdani Aerospace CEO Fatema Hamdani said.

“The Navy wants to discover what’s possible. And we’re honored to give them the solutions they need.” 

Kraus Hamdani’s K1000

The K1000 measures 3 meters (9.8 feet) long and has a wingspan of 5 meters (16.4 feet). It is equipped with lithium-ion photovoltaic propulsion and a folding propeller.

The drone has a range of 1,000 miles (1,610 kilometers), maximum altitude of 20,000 feet (7,000 meters), and flight speed up to 40 knots (74 kilometers/46 miles per hour).

Users can fly a swarm of K1000 via a simpler, “gamified” user interface that only requires a single operator.

K1000 drone swarm control interface. Photo: Kraus Hamdani Aerospace

The K1000 in US Army

The US Army demonstrated the K1000’s capabilities in Hawaii last year for “flexible communications” in complex battlefield scenarios.

During the trial, the drone completed a 26-hour flight carrying full-motion video and radio payloads integrated with ground-based units.

Decisions made through data gathered from this simulation enabled soldiers to initiate a fire chain from an offshore US Navy destroyer.

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