Hybrid Air Vehicles HAV-304 Airlander 10
The Hybrid Air Vehicles HAV 304 Airlander 10 is a hybrid airship made by Hybrid Air Vehicles in the UK. It was originally built for the US Army's Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) project.
Following the successful demonstration of the HAV-3 small-scale demonstrator, and with Northrop Grumman as the prime bidder, the hybrid airship concept was accepted for the US Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) project, in preference to the Lockheed Martin P-791 also submitted.
Requirements included the capability to operate at 6 km (20,000 feet) above mean sea level, a 3000 km (2,000 mile) radius of action, and a 21-day on-station availability, provide up to 16 kilowatts of electrical power for payload, be runway independent and carry several different sensors at the same time. According to the U.S. Army, the LEMV was to have been a recoverable and reusable multi-mission platform. It could be forward located to support extended geostationary operations from austere locations and capable of beyond-line-of-sight command and control. Northrop said the LEMV could be used as a cargo aircraft, claiming that it had enough buoyancy to haul seven tons of cargo 2,400 miles at 30 miles per hour.
The HAV 304 was selected by the United States Army for its LEMV programme in which Northrop Grumman was to have been the prime contractor.
The agreement to develop the project was signed on June 14, 2010, between the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command and Northrop Grumman. The agreement also included options for procuring two additional airships.
Northrop Grumman's subcontractors included:
Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd. in Cranfield, UK (HAV304 platform)
Warwick Mills in New Ipswich, USA (fabrics engineering)
ILC Dover in Kent County, USA (airship manufacturer and designer)
Textron subsidiary AAI Corp. in Hunt Valley, USA (makes the US Army's OneSystem UAV/surveillance aircraft control & information distribution stations); and
SAIC in McLean, USA.
The developmental prototype emerged as the HAV 304, having an internal capacity of 38,000 cubic metres. This compares mid-20th Century airships such as the German Hindenburg-class airships which were 245 m (803 ft 10 in) long.
The airship was a hybrid aircraft and uses aerodynamic lift like a conventional aeroplane to take off before using helium to keep it in the sky once it is airborne. Engines on board are then used to move while it monitors events on the ground. The LEMV's skin—a blend of Vectran, Kevlar, and Mylar—would have been able to cope with a "reasonable amount of small arms fire." Northrop estimated that the biggest threat to the craft was weather, where high winds or thunderstorms could buffet the craft.
The Airlander, made by British company Hybrid Air Vehicles, has four engines and no internal structure. It maintains its shape thanks to the pressure of the 38,000 cubic meters of helium inside its hull, which is made from ultralight carbon fiber. Together with the aerodynamic shape of its hull, the lighter-than-air helium gas provides most of the lift. The aircraft's odd shape has led some observers to describe it as a "flying bum."
The project cost between $154 million and $517 million, dependent on all options. The cost included the design, development, and testing of the airship system within an 18-month time period, followed by transportation to Afghanistan for military assessment.
The timeline for LEMV was an 18-month schedule starting in June 2010 that included vehicle inflation at about month 10. Additional operational characterization would have occurred at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, in month 16.
The overall concept struggled with constant time delays and technological challenges. In October 2011 Flight International reported that the LEMV was scheduled to make its first flight in November 2011. According to media reports the LEMV was then set up for its first flight in early June 2012. However, unspecified problems delayed the flight even further. The first flight of the LEMV took place on August 7, 2012 over Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. The flight lasted for 90 minutes and was performed with a crew on board. The first flight primary objective was to perform a safe launch and recovery with a secondary objective to verify the flight control system operation. Additional first flight objectives included airworthiness testing and demonstration, and system level performance verification. All objectives were met during the first flight. That put the combat deployment of the LEMV to Afghanistan in early 2013. However, two months after the test flight, the Army said it had concerns about sending the airship abroad. These included safety, transportation to the theatre of operations, and the timeline of deployment.
The Army was slated to demonstrate the first LEMV in Afghanistan 18 months after June 2010, with proposed plans to build five others following mission completion.
On 7 August 2012 the first test flight of an LEMV was completed at Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst, New Jersey. The vehicle tested was one of three planned for the US Army.
The US Army cancelled the LEMV project for cost reasons in February 2013. HAV bought back the airship in September 2013 for $301,000. The cameras, sensors, and communications equipment were removed and the helium was drained before the sale. In 2014—named Airlander—it was reassembled at RAF Cardington in England and re-designated the Airlander 10, to be test-flown in 2016. Hybrid Air Vehicles then managed to raise over 3.4 million pounds ($4.4 million) through two crowd funding campaigns. It also received a grant from the European Union and funding from the U.K. government. The first flight took place on 17 August 2016.
in Cardington Hangar on March 21, 2016
HAV 304 design
Length: 91 m (298 ft 7 in)
Width: 34 m (111 ft 7 in)
Height: 26 m (85 ft 4 in)
Envelope: 38,000 cubic metres
Engines: four x 350 hp, 4 litre supercharged V8 diesel
Capacity: 10,000 kg (22,050 lb)
Length: 92 m (301 ft 10 in)
Wingspan: 43.5 m (142 ft 9 in)
Height: 26 m (85 ft 4 in)
Volume: 38,000 m3 (1,300,000 cu ft)
Gross weight: 20,000 kg (44,092 lb)
Powerplant: 4 × 4 litre V8 turbocharged diesel engines, 242 kW (325 hp) each
Cruising speed: 148 km/h (92 mph; 80 kn)
Endurance: 5 days manned
Service ceiling: 6,100 m (20,013 ft)
Loiter speed 20 knots (37 km/h)