WASHINGTON — A US experimental drone has set a record for the longest continuous flight of a craft of its size, staying in the air for three days, the International Aeronautical Federation said.

The Orion prototype long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicle, similar to the well-known Predator and Reaper style drones used by the US military, flew for 80 hours two minutes and 52 seconds, according to the data validated by the federation.

The feat actually took place in December over California, when four pilots took turns flying the craft designed to carry a payload of cameras, weapons or other equipment of more than one ton.

It shattered the previous UAV flight record of 30 hours, belonging to the Global Hawk by Northrop Grumman.

The drone was built as part of an experimental US Air Force program to meet the round-the-clock needs of American intelligence and surveillance.

Its manufacturer, Aurora Flight Sciences, hopes to build a series of the planes for the Air Force.

The overall record for flight duration by a UAV belongs to a small solar powered craft built by Airbus that carried out a 14-day flight in 2010.

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