UAV Corp’s (UMAV), Skyborne Technology (STI) and its partners have conducted the first flight of the prototype Detachable Airship from a Tether Technology (DATT MA 600) Hybrid Electric Extended Range Airship.

The other three partners are Research in Flight (RIF) as prime contractor, Auburn University and Gulf Coast State College.

The 250ft DATT 600 airship has been designed as part of the six-month Phase I project of the US Air Force’s (USAF) AFWERX contract.

The contract was awarded to explore the potential of STI’s aerial transport platform for civilian and military support missions.

UAV Corp chairman Billy Robinson said: “After the successful control systems test, we flew our prototype DATT 600 airship completing the first phase of our airforce contract, proving the initial designs for our next generation airship.

“Our success with the airforce project and the yet untapped near-space opportunities creates a new and exciting direction for our company.”

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By GlobalData

The 250ft DATT 600 airship is designed to conduct flights up to an altitude of 15,000ft to 20,000ft. This can be further developed for extended flight altitudes with an aim to reach near space.

The maiden flight now moves the development effort towards a Phase II contract, under which the team will manufacture and test a DATT.

The testing will focus on evaluating the airship as a cylinder shape aerial platform. It will be equipped with new aerodynamic properties.

STI CEO Michael Lawson said: “We are excited to have had successful test flights of the prototype airship as the team looks forward to the build of the full scale 250ft DATT MA 600 airship slated for delivery in early 2023 with its remotely piloted capability and a seven (7) drone launch and recovery system.

“With the new modular designs with advanced composites and propulsion, near space at altitudes up to 100,000ft are not out of the question.”