Hybrid Air Vehicles want prototype back from US army

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A company from Cranfield is in talks with the US military to buy back a giant surveillance blimp it designed.

Hybrid Air Vehicles built the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle - an airship to give troops in Afghanistan an overhead view of terrain they were facing - for the American military.

However, the army’s top secret $300 million plan was scrapped as part of huge budget cuts, taking the blimp along with it.

Now though, Hybrid Air Vehicles is in talks to buy back the airship.

“We put in the request a few weeks ago and we are awaiting their response,” said Hardy Giesler, Business Development Director at Hybrid Air Vehicles.

“We are very excited to hear back from them.

“The vehicle eclipses most modern-day aircraft. It is 400 feet long and significantly better for the environment than a large plane. The concept is borne from airships, but is essentially two airships put together.”

Mr Giesler believes the company still has chance of working with the US military in the future.

He said: “We believe the hybrid technology we use is something which will benefit them in years to come. Only a few days ago, the head of the air force said hybrid vehicles are the future of the industry.”

The company claim that theirs is the safest form of air transport. Using helium buoyancy and aerodynamics to create lift, the craft can take off and land in significant winds and can land on any flat surface.

“I believe it could be the aircraft of the future,” said Mr Giesler.

“It is ideal for areas where infrastructure is lacking. For example, in the mining communities in northern Canada, the roads are susceptible to the weather.

“Using our vehicle, it can take off and land anywhere, making places so much more accessible.”

For more information, visit www.hybridairvehicles.com