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Boeing HALE  (Source: Boeing)
Ford provides propulsion for Boeing's latest UAV

Boeing is pushing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to the next level with the help of Ford Motor Company. The company today announced that its High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) UAV has successfully completed simulated testing.

The HALE uses a prototype hydrogen engine developed by Ford. According to the Boeing press release, the hydrogen engine is based on the Duratec 23 four-cylinder gasoline engine used in the Focus, Fusion and Escape. In this particular application, however, the engine not only runs on hydrogen, but also uses multi-stage turbocharging.

"This test demonstrates the technical readiness of the hydrogen engine system and confirms the capability breakthrough in flight endurance and altitude that could be realized by a variety of military and commercial customers," said Darryl Davis of Boeing's Advanced Precision Engagement and Mobility Systems.

"This test could help convince potential customers that hydrogen-powered aircraft are viable in the near-term," continued Boeing Advanced Systems President George Muellner. "This is a substantial step toward providing the persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities our customers desire."

The test simulated four days of sustained flight -- three of which were simulated at 65,000 feet. Production versions of the HALE will be designed to stay aloft for a week and can carry up to one ton of cargo.

The military is increasingly looking to unmanned vehicles – both on land and in the air – to put human soldiers out of harm’s way. This latest development from Boeing and Ford could usher in a new era of next-generation UAVs with the stamina and payload capacity to really make a difference in the skies above the battlefield.

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Engine management details?
By kileil on 10/24/2007 5:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
I'd love to hear more about how they're dealing with adjusting the engine to deal with the lack of o2 up there.
Especially if the engine management has to adjust from take off to above normal passenger cruising altitude. I'm sure the turbo helps stuff in more o2 but this is impressive on what was originally designed for a car.

Running lean is the least of their problems.

RE: Engine management details?
By Fnoob on 10/24/2007 7:54:41 PM , Rating: 3
"I'd love to hear more about how they're dealing with adjusting the engine to deal with the lack of o2 up there.

Masher will be with you shortly.

RE: Engine management details?
By Master Kenobi on 10/24/2007 8:24:06 PM , Rating: 3
You can use a Hydrogen Chemical Combustion without Oxygen.

RE: Engine management details?
By ziggo on 10/25/2007 2:18:03 AM , Rating: 2
Multiple stage turbos. Though I honestly don't know why you would bother. With the knowledge I have Turbo-Props are a much more efficient solution, and I cant see it being that much harder to adjust to hydrogen combustion in a turbine as than in a reciprocating engine.

RE: Engine management details?
By rcc on 10/25/2007 2:22:01 PM , Rating: 2
The article did mention a multi-stage turbo.

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