Vertex Aerospace and Hybrid Air Vehicles have signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Department of Defense (DoD) to present a missionised Airlander 10 hybrid air vehicle (HAV).
UK hybrid airship manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles said the Airlander could be effective as a ‘persistent multi-domain intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, computing and communication capabilities’ to the DoD.
US engineering services company Vertex Aerospace senior vice president of aircraft integration and sustainment Brian Anderson, said: “Airlander has the ability to deliver truly powerful multi-domain capability to defence customers. We look forward to working with HAV to integrate, field and support this revolutionary aircraft to serve the US war fighter.”
The Airlander 10 was based on the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) that was originally developed for the US Army by Hybrid Air Vehicles under a partnership with Northrop Grumman.
The US army cancelled the LEMV project in 2013 due to ongoing technical delays and budget cuts. Originally the army had planned to deploy the system in Afghanistan.
Hybrid Air Vehicles chief executive Tom Grundy said: “This partnership will enable us to offer a fully configured, missionised and supported Airlander 10 aircraft to the US DoD as an airborne solution to many of the challenges posed by multi-domain operations.
“Vertex and HAV share a joint ethos of delivering affordable capabilities that meet the needs of modern operations. This MoU is a strong foundation for us to achieve our shared goals.”
Hybrid Air Vehicles tout the Airlander 10 as an effective solution for missions like border patrol, surveillance, and search and rescue where a long flight-time and persistent location is key.
The Airlander system uses lighter-than-air technology for lift, allowing the craft to stay in the air for up to five days at a time carrying a 10 tonne payload. The airship has a range of 4,000 miles and can travel at altitudes as high as 20,000 feet (6km).
Last year Airlander participated in trials held by NATO which assessed the ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) capabilities of the airship.