BAE Systems and Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd have announced a Memorandum of Understanding to examine the prospects of the Airlander, a large, long-endurance airship, for use in defence and security contexts.
The Airlander, touted by its makers as a beacon of sustainable aviation, is on the radar for airborne defence logistics and long-endurance airborne communication and surveillance applications, especially with its capability to carry sizeable payloads.
The collaboration is set to be facilitated through BAE Systems’ FalconWorks, an advanced research & technology centre specialising in the Air sector.
One standout feature of the Airlander 10 is its potential to remain in the sky for up to five days, equipped with a plethora of computing, communication, and reconnaissance tools. Furthermore, the aircraft’s versatility to launch from almost any flat surface, inclusive of water bodies, makes it a promising asset in coastal, maritime, and land-based warfare scenarios.
Highlighting the aircraft’s utility in defence logistics, the firms mentioned that Airlander 10 can transport up to a 10 tonnes logistics payload, outperforming current military transport helicopters in terms of range, cost, and capacity. Future iterations, namely the Airlander 50 and Airlander 200, are projected to bring forth sustainable, low-cost air lift capabilities at both tactical and strategic levels.
Dave Holmes, Managing Director of FalconWorks at BAE Systems Air, expressed the evolving nature of conflicts necessitates innovative solutions. He said, “The changing character of conflict is driving new and novel approaches across the defence sector… We’re excited to work closely with the Hybrid Air Vehicles team to jointly explore and advance Airlander’s potential defence and security capabilities.”
Tom Grundy, CEO of Hybrid Air Vehicles, emphasized Airlander’s revolutionary design, describing it as the “world’s most efficient large aircraft.” Grundy expressed enthusiasm about the partnership with BAE Systems, viewing them as the ideal ally to fast-track the development of tailored Airlander systems for the worldwide defence sector.