Lockheed Martin: Planes Could Be Refuelled By Ground-Based Lasers

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Planes could in soon be refuelled mid-flight by ground-based lasers after successful tests of the technology.

Lockheed Martin said that its Stalker Unmanned Aerial System - a type of drone - can now be powered by a high-powered laser.

The system increased its flight time to 48 hours - an improvement of 2,400%.

The test was completed indoors in a wind tunnel, as a demonstration of LaserMotive's ability to wirelessly transfer energy over long distances using laser light.

The light provides a continual power source to the drone, and at the end of the test the craft's battery had more power than when it started.

Potentially such a system could result in powered craft that could stay in the air indefinitely.

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"We're pleased with the results of this test. Laser power holds real promise in extending the capabilities of Stalker," said Tom Koonce, Lockheed Martin program manager.

"A ground-to-air recharging system like this allows us to provide practically unlimited flight endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles that the Stalker vehicle can fulfil."

The next step is to demonstrate it working outside - so don't expect to see it outfitted on a low-cost flight to Magaluf just yet.