We recently spent four days with a fantastic team of Marine Corps officers and faculty members from the US Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) during their visit to the UK.

The visit follows the recently signed Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) to explore the impact that hybrid aircraft technologies may have on mobility resilience and flexibility in support of the US Navy and Marine Corps expeditionary warfighting capability. A CRADA is a powerful tool for NPS, allowing them to leverage and assess crucial and timely technologies being developed in the commercial sector. All programmes studied at NPS are tied to missions and work to keep advanced technology in the forefront of military planning. Our CRADA brings together the experience and tools to model complex, long-duration scenarios to demonstrate hybrid aircraft platform capability and performance in defence roles.

The visit was a great stride forward in our collaboration, with the first scenario agreed to fully assess the potential of hybrid aircraft technology based on a real-world deployment. The scenario will utilise the Airlander family’s unique combination of range, payload capacity, endurance, and minimal infrastructure requirements.

During the visit we also worked with NPS to identify a number of areas of ongoing potential collaboration including further operational scenarios, digital simulation, meteorological impact assessment, ground operations, crew management and mitigating environmental impacts. The visit also allowed us to identify the basic requirements that a future field experimentation and full aircraft demonstration of capability would need to accomplish.

We were pleased to visit The University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) with the NPS during the visit. The AMRC is a world-class centre for advanced manufacturing and is leading the way in modelling and simulation, an area the NPS is particularly interested in.

The visit from the Naval Postgraduate School was a great opportunity to properly meet the team working on assessing Airlander under our recently signed CRADA. It was excellent to be able to further build on our strong relationship, facilitating closer working together in the future. I am particularly pleased we were able to work together, face-to-face, to agree the details of the first scenario that NPS and ourselves will be exploring with various sizes of Airlander in a logistics role. I very much look forward to the broad range of opportunities for collaboration in the future.

Mike Durham Chief Technical Officer, HAV

The Naval Postgraduate Team was not only impressed with the vision and passion of the HAV team, but also very appreciative of the staff’s candour. HAV believes that hybrid aircraft can truly change the world, but they did not try to sell it as the multi-modal, one-stop shop for every mission that the US Navy needs to address. We came home from the visit with a lot of energy and direction. Our collaborative work with HAV on what hybrid aircraft can do, and how they will support the future force, is gaining momentum and generating more student and faculty interest. We are taking an interdisciplinary approach to our collaboration efforts. We want to find flexible solutions for the joint force and not be just another niche, siloed solution to address the array of challenges that we face.

Captain Ben Cohen Defense Systems Analysis Program, Naval Postgraduate School

This visit has paved the way for HAV and NPS to work together across a broad range of subject areas, sharing knowledge and experience to demonstrate performance through modelling and simulation of how hybrid aircraft can support and shape the fleet of the US Navy and Marine Corps readying it for the future.

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