Blimps Ahoy!

Airlander 04

Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) have brought back their demonstrator HAV304 from the US Army, after the cancellation of the Long-Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) programme.

Now renamed Airlander 10, HAV plan to reassemble the Airlander 10 in the UK (subject to raising £10 million) and fly it on a demonstrator tour during 2015-16 for a planned bigger model. The tour will primarily include Canada and the US, before a planned finish in Rio de Janeiro in time for the Olympics.

Airlander 01 Airlander 02 Airlander 03 Airlander 04

Should the MoD help fund the Airlander 10?

Other than being an area that the UK could take the lead in, this could also be a relatively inexpensive way of undertaking some practical experimentation of the utility of Airships?

I’m not suggesting that airships could directly replace any current or planned platforms, but perhaps it could supplement in ISTAR and Transport roles?

Imagine an unmanned version of one of these in Mali, loitering over the battlefield for days at a time with the combined sensor power of Sentinel and Gorgon Stare?

Or acting as a mobile skycrane during the flooding?

Perhaps an MPA or overland communications relay?

The Airlander 50 model has a planned range of 4,815 kms, which from RAF Brize Norton, would allow it to self deploy to all of North Africa and Cyprus.

A model based at Waddington would easily be able to cover the entire UK EEZ / SAR region, albeit its not clear how well it would perform during poor weather.

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