Muirhead Aerospace will develop a lightweight miniature actuator for QinetiQ’s Zephyr high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).

The 30kg Zephyr UAV has a wing span of 18m and is being designed to soar to altitudes above that of modern commercial jets for extended periods of up to several months for reconnaissance missions.

The Zephyr has a carbon-fibre structure and is powered by solar energy generated by amorphous silicon arrays that cover its wings.

The actuator to be developed, would be an extremely lightweight system, weighing less than 100g, with the power to move the flight control surfaces such as elevators and rudder aboard the UAV with a force of up to 30N.

Muirhead will provide an assembly capable of operating at very low temperatures and pressures at these altitudes with minimal energy requirements.