The Lockheed Martin High Altitude Airship (HAATM), an un-tethered, unmanned lighter-than-air vehicle, will operate above the jet stream in a geostationary position to deliver persistent station keeping as a surveillance platform, telecommunications relay, or a weather observer. The HAA also provides the Warfighter affordable, ever-present Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and rapid communications connectivity over the entire battle space. The technology is available now and ready for integration and flight test.
This updated concept of a proven technology takes lighter-than-air vehicles into a realm that gives users capabilities on par with satellites at a fraction of the cost (1 to 2 orders of magnitude less). The HAA will also integrate reconfigurable, multi-mission payload suites. HAA is significantly less costly to deploy and operate than other airborne platforms, and supports critical missions for defense, homeland security, and other civil applications. Its operational persistence eliminates the need for in-theater logistic support. In position, an airship would survey a 600-mile diameter area and millions of cubic miles of airspace.
Lockheed Martin is currently on contract to build an airship prototype based on the technologies developed earlier in the program. The performance goals for the prototype HAA include sustained operations for approximately one month, above 60,000 feet, while providing power to a user-defined payload. Its utility as a mobile, re-taskable, high-altitude, geostationary, long-endurance platform will span from short and long range missile warning, surveillance and target acquisition to communications and weather/environmental monitoring. Additionally, the HAA prototype will demonstrate station-keeping and autonomous flight control capabilities. Lockheed Martin assembled a team of industry leaders in autonomous control systems, regenerative power systems, envelope material and systems integration to develop its HAA solution.
High-strength fabrics to minimize hull weight, thin-film solar arrays for the regenerative power supply, and lightweight propulsion units are key technologies ready to make a high-flying airship a reality. The combination of photovoltaic and advanced energy storage systems delivers the necessary power to perform the airship functions. Propulsion units will maintain the airship’s geostationary position above the jet stream, propel it aloft and guide its takeoff and landing during ascent and descent. Lighter-than-air vehicles, operating at altitudes above controlled airspace under the control of a manned ground station, give users the flexibility to change payload equipment when the airship returns to its operational base to perform different tasks.
In April 2008, the HAA program transferred from the Missile Defense Agency to the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USASMDC), located at Huntsville, AL . The USASMDC is continuing the development and demonstration of the HAA to align with the USASMDC mission. USASMDC is the Army specified proponent for space, high altitude, ground-based midcourse defense and serves as the Army operational integrator for global missile defense; and conducts mission-related research and development. USASMDC conducts space and missile defense operations and provides planning, integration, control and coordination of Army forces and capabilities in support of U.S. Strategic Command.
Lockheed Martin’s unique experience with certificating commercial airships with the FAA gives it the understanding to address the concerns of flight through controlled airspace, especially with an unmanned airship. Lockheed Martin, Akron, received its first production contract for a lighter-than-air vehicle in 1928. Since that time, Lockheed Martin has built more than 8,000 lighter-than-air platforms. The Lockheed Martin Airdock, which is 1,175 feet long, 325 feet wide and 211 feet high, may serve as a final assembly facility.
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