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US Air Force Deploys ULTRA Glider-Like Drone in Middle East

The US Air Force has for the first time deployed its Unmanned Long-Endurance Tactical Reconnaissance Aircraft (ULTRA) in the Middle East.

Images were uploaded on social media showing the glider-like drone preparing for an early morning mission within the US Central Command area of responsibility.

Though the exact location was not disclosed, sharp eyes online revealed that the photos were taken from the Al Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, based on the name of the hangar in the background.

Interestingly, the base serves as the home for the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing and previously housed the US Air Force’s RQ-4 Global Hawk drones.

The service did not say what particular mission the unmanned system would conduct, but it is believed to be connected to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR).

The photos of the ULTRA long-endurance drone in the Middle East have now been removed from the DVIDS websites following the identification of its exact location.

80-Hour Endurance

The ULTRA was developed in 2019 by the Air Force Research Laboratory in collaboration with Dzyne Technologies Incorporated.

Its design is based on a manned sports glider that was modified to support long-duration surveillance operations.

More specifically, the drone has long wings and winglets, a T-tail, and a retractable undercarriage.

It also has an electro-optical/infrared sensor turret fitted below the fuselage, providing 360-degree ISR capabilities.

At maximum, the ULTRA can stay in the air for 80 hours.

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