Special Operations Drones Powered/Refueled Remotely Using Lasers
To be fair, this wasn’t a flight test. Lockheed’s Stalker was modified for indoor flight and placed in a wind tunnel under flight conditions, so the laser system didn’t have to track the moving aircraft in flight. But the outcome was extremely promising nonetheless. Under conditions akin to continuous flight, this new laser light power system created by LaserMotive Inc. delivered a constant flow of power to the Stalker, keeping it humming for far longer than even the test parameters required. The test team only terminated the trial because the Stalker and the power system had already far exceeded the endurance goals they had set out to meet.
Moreover, the Stalker’s battery ended the session with more power stored than when it began the test, suggesting that even under more stressful flight conditions that drain a bit more power from the Stalker—bad weather, perhaps—the system is capable of delivering plenty of energy to keep a craft airborne. That’s good news for the Special Ops forces who use the drone for persistent surveillance and recon.
(via Ground-to-Air Laser Power System Keeps a Plane Aloft for Two Straight Days | Popular Science)