Jump to content

Lockheed has liftoff: Sells new airships in $480M deal


Recommended Posts

I have a feeling we will be seeing more about these Hybrid Airships. These are neither Blimp or Zeppelin. New developments come fast when innovation tweaks an older idea into something new, like Apple did with the cell phone making it a smartphone in a race with Android to be first to market. Competition helps.


Bear in mind it has about the same payload capacity as a C-130 without the size limitations of an aircraft fuselage. This may work or not but at first glance is interesting.




"Lockheed Martin has landed its first contract for the hybrid airship it created inside its top secret Skunk Works division. In a deal valued at $480 million, Straightline Aviation (SLA) has signed a letter of intent to purchase 12 of the heavier-than-air airships that measure nearly a football field long. First delivery is scheduled for 2018, with the final airship expected no later than 2021.


The helium-filled airships will be able to carry 20 tons of cargo to remote places without roads. They will even be able to hover over open water. Lockheed has been pitching the airships as a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to deliver supplies and equipment.


What attracted SLA to the Lockheed Martin product is that the hybrid airship is heavier than air, even though it is filled with helium. Its skin and airframe weigh it down, it doesn't need mooring like a traditional blimp. Engines guide the airship into position, and on its belly are wheel-like structures that spin to let it either hover or "grip" a surface. Lockheed said this provides stability in windy conditions for loading and unloading supplies, making it much easier to operate than a lighter-than-air machine.

"The difference between lighter-than-air and hybrid airships is quite profound," said SLA's CEO. "It may seem small but it is a spectacular development."


SLA's Kendrick said oil, gas and mining are the "low hanging fruit," to start with, whether it's delivering cargo by air to the "soft sands" of the Middle East, or removing the need to build annual ice roads in northern Canada. "Some ice roads can cost $20 million a year to construct," said Rob Binns, CEO of Lockheed Martin's Hybrid Enterprises. That is one market SLA hopes to target. "You don't have to build ice roads ... and wait for the environmentalists to give you permission," said CEO Kendrick. "You can just land on ice."


Much more in the article here: http://www.cnbc.com/2016/03/29/


For those unaware of the incredible history of Lockheed's efforts there:

Skunk Works is an official alias for Lockheed Martin's Advanced Development Programs (ADP), formerly called Lockheed Advanced Development Projects. Skunk Works is responsible for a number of famous aircraft designs, including the U-2, the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk, and the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. Currently its main project is the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, which will be used in the air forces of several countries. Production is expected to last for up to four decades. The name "Skunk Works" was taken from the moonshine factory in the comic strip Li'l Abner.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...