Ion Tiger is a hydrogen-powered fuel cell unmanned air vehicle (UAV) developed by the Naval Research Laboratory . It has set an unofficial flight endurance record by flying 23 hours and 17 minutes at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The electric fuel cell propulsion system onboard the Ion Tiger has the benefits of low noise and signature of a battery-powered UAV, while taking advantage of hydrogen, a high-energy fuel. Fuel cells create an electrical current when they convert oxygen and hydrogen into water, with only heat and water as byproducts.
The 550-Watt fuel cell onboard the Ion Tiger has about four times the efficiency of a comparable internal combustion engine and the system provides 7 times the energy in the equivalent weight of batteries. The Ion Tiger carries a 4 to 5 pound payload and weighs approximately 37 pounds.
Thanks to the high energy in the fuel cell system onboard the Ion Tiger, it is now possible to do long endurance missions with an electric UAV, thus reducing the number of daily launches and landings and allowing a larger cruise range.