Why the US military could replace spy satellites with solar planes

The US military has spent billions of dollars on spy satellites and supersonic surveillance aircraft, but now it seems to be focusing on slow, lightweight solar-powered planes to do the same job

Technology


| Analysis

3 November 2022

The Zephyr made by Airbus is just one of the solar-powered planes out there

Airbus

The skies may soon be full of unpiloted solar-powered planes, employed by the military to surreptitiously watch what is happening far below. But in an era in which private companies like SpaceX can launch more than 3000 satellites into orbit, with thousands more planned, why would countries or military establishments rely on aircraft for this?

A clue comes from the US Central Command’s admission that there are gaps in its ability to keep watch on distant countries …

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