This Furious High-Flying Drone Can Spy Overhead For 15 Hours

For many modern UAVs, portability comes at the cost of airtime longevity—the smaller the drone, the shorter it stays in the air. But the Lockheed Fury 1500 is small enough to be packed to the ends of the Earth and strong enough to loiter over that spot for more than half a day.

Originally developed by San Luis Obispo, California's AeroMech Engineering (first was bought by Chandler/May in 2009 though C/M itself was subsequently bought out by Lockheed in 2012), the Fury 1500 is the larger-capacity cousin of the Fury UAS. Both iterations, however, are designed to perform a number of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks for deployed ground forces.

Using a pneumatic launcher (think: the most badass T-shirt cannon you've ever seen), the 4.5-foot long, 12-foot wide, runway-independent Fury can be launched from both land and at sea for flights above the open seas, along shorelines, and inland. Its JP8-powered motor produces 2kW of power, enough to drive a rear-mounted, three-blade rotor and propel the system as high as 18,000 feet and as far as 1,700 miles. If it spots something interesting with either its IR or EO eyes, the Fury can then loiter above it for as much as 16 hours before needing to refuel.

Footage of what it sees is beamed back to its base station in real time through a SATCOM data link. What's more, it can either be remotely piloted or, thanks to its STANAG 4586 SharkFin mission management software, execute its duties completely autonomously. And when the Fury returns to its control station, it can either be nabbed in a large capture net or simply set down over water and fished out. [Air Force Technology - Lockheed 1, 2 - Providence Journal - UAS Vision]