BAE Systems is to “explore the potential in security and defence applications” of the Airlander 10 hybrid airship, under a memorandum of understanding with developer Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), announced at the DSEI show in London on 13 September.

Credit HAV

Source: Hybrid Air Vehicles

HAV sees applications for the hybrid airship in the commercial cargo, VIP, air transport and military sectors

BAE’s FalconWorks advanced research and technology unit for the air sector will lead the project, which will also examine “technical and programme collaboration opportunities”.

Military logistics and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) are two of the potential uses Bedford, UK-based HAV is promoting for the platform, alongside commercial cargo, VIP tourism and regional transport.

HAV has already talked about developing a remotely piloted variant of the 10t-payload Airlander 10 which could stay airborne for five days.

The company, which is establishing a production facility in Doncaster, says the aircraft’s ability to operate from any flat surface, including water, with minimal infrastructure “offers mobility, deployability, and flexibility in support of maritime, coastal, and land-based expeditionary warfare in areas where current platforms are challenged”.

The company’s chief executive Tom Grundy describes BAE as “the perfect partner to accelerate the development of modified Airlander systems for the global defence market”.

Dave Holmes, managing director of FalconWorks, adds: “We’re excited to work with HAV to jointly explore and advance Airlander’s potential defence and security capabilities.”

HAV has already signed research collaborations with the US Naval Postgraduate School and US Department of Defense Operational Energy Office.

The start-up hopes to deliver its first aircraft in 2026 – in a VIP tourism configuration – and to be producing 10 Airlanders per year by the end of the decade.