ALTIUS-900, an air-launched, high-endurance drone with 1,000km-range

Area-I from the state of Georgia – an American company working for the military since 2009, is starting trials of its largest flying drone – the ALTIUS-900. The drone is an agile-launched, compressed carriage, high endurance UAS capable of carrying a variety of payloads.

ALTIUS-900 shares the same technology and framework as the more TRL mature ALTIUS-600 while providing increased endurance and next-generation power system technology. It will be carried by larger UAVs or airplanes on standard under-wing pylons designed for bombs weighing up to 1,000-pounds (454 kg). In particular, these are used on the MQ-9 Reaper strike drones.

The drone can also be dropped out of the back of a cargo aircraft
The drone can also be dropped out of the back of a cargo aircraft. Credit: Area-I

The Integrated Multi-Mode Propulsion UAS Leveraging Speed and Endurance, or IMPULSE, is a propulsion system for ALTIUS-900 utilizing advanced hybrid technology. The series of hybrid propulsion system provides improved performance, including high-speed dash capabilities and extended operations.

The Altius-900 aims to be one of the many futuristic concepts of combat platform in the air-and-land space. The Altius-900 is powered by a hybrid-electric engine that runs on heavy fuel to carry out reconnaissance for 15 hours over a distance of 620 miles (1,000 km). Weighing 36.3 kg, the drone can also be dropped out of the back of a cargo aircraft, so it is equipped with foldable wings with a span of 6.1 meters.

Besides, the Altius-900 is equipped with thermal imaging and optoelectronic devices to support aircraft – such as the AC-130J Ghostrider or future reconnaissance and combat helicopters. The idea is that combat drones or manned aircraft could reconnoiter their targets without having to expose themselves to fire in the defense zone of a potential enemy.