US DoD Operational Energy Office signs contract and attends first hybrid aircraft project meeting at HAV’s offices.

In April this year we announced that HAV had been selected for a hybrid aircraft project with funding allocated from the US DoD.

This signified the next step in leveraging Airlander technology for maritime logistics and communication, revolutionising the operations of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in contested environments. We’re pleased to announce that a contract has now been signed covering the first year of this up to three-year contract. This contract has been awarded under the Operational Energy Capability Improvement Fund (OECIF) initiative, to begin collaborations to explore Airlander’s operations in enhancing logistics and maritime operations. Following a successful kick-off meeting with the US DoD’s Operational Energy Office, HAV hosted the first Technical Interchange Meeting at its headquarters in Bedford.

For this visit, we welcomed attendees from the US Navy, the US Marine Corps, the US Air Force, the US Naval Postgraduate School, a separate Federally Funded Research and Development Centre, Adams Communications & Engineering Technology, Kestrel Technology Group, and 9-Line Solutions. The visit was chaired by US Marine Corps Captain Ben Cohen. The meeting enabled all attendees to better understand how Airlander could deliver operational capability more efficiently, using less fuel, and with fewer emissions, than existing platforms. Attendees were also able to see major elements of the prototype aircraft and to fly the simulator.

During the meetings participants identified and documented the logistic and maritime Design Reference Missions which would be most relevant to combatant command stakeholders such as INDOPACOM. Moving forward, the fuel burden and cost of achieving each of these missions using existing platforms will be determined to establish a baseline against which Airlander’s performance will be measured and compared. Our work with the US Navy’s Postgraduate School will build on existing Cooperative Research and Development Agreements (CRADA) to enable these capabilities to be modelled and simulations created, firstly in virtual reality, and then in a Live, Virtual, and Constructive (LVC) environment.

The team from HAV presented its technology roadmap to deliver zero-emissions aviation exploring our pathway to an all-electric Airlander 10 by 2030 and to show a pathway to in-service capability.

The outcome of this work will quantify the significant operational efficiency benefits that Airlander can deliver to missions of high relevance to combatant and logistics commands. Airlander will use less energy to achieve better outcomes in comparison to conventional aircraft. Further efficiencies from cost savings, cost avoidance, and other benefits will be identified to show how Airlander can greatly reduce the overall cost of delivering operational capability, in addition to reducing reliance on fossil fuels and greatly reducing pollution. A clear pathway to demonstrating capability in later years will be created together with possible acquisition strategies to deliver in-service capability.

We’re proud to be involved in this programme to demonstrate Airlander’s capabilities and look forward to further collaborations with our partners over the coming years informing DoD future procurement plans.

We see huge potential for hybrid aircraft, like Airlander, to resolve many of the challenges we face in contested logistics and maritime operations. Our success in resolving these challenges is a strong partnership with operational forces that ensures the use cases are tactically relevant and logistically valuable. At the first Technical Interchange Meeting Team held at HAV’s offices in Bedford, team members were able to learn more about Airlander’s unique capabilities and to see elements of the aircraft, and the technology behind it.

Capt. Ben Cohen USMC, Emerging Technologies Lead, G-7 Marine Corps Installations West/MCB Camp Pendleton

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