The United States Department of Defense for Operational Energy Office has announced funding for a hybrid aircraft project in the, Pacific with US Indo-Pacific Command and Hybrid Air Vehicles.

This collaboration will impact maritime logistics and communication, contributing to US Navy and Marine Corps operations.

Marine Corps Captains Ben Cohen, who will serve as the US lead for the project, said: “As a logistics officer, the challenges with contested logistics are at the forefront of my mind.

“After attending a highly productive working group with the INDOPACOM Logistics, Plans, and Exercises Division in November of 2022, we designed this research effort to be able to respond to many of the challenges identified by the cross-functional team.

“When we reach the second phase, we will be ready to support modelling, simulation, and analysis of the hybrid aircraft in use cases that are defined by any combatant commander, but with a particular eye to contested logistics challenges in INDOPACOM.”

Cohen and Marine Corps Captain John Schmaltz became interested in the defence applications of civilian hybrid aircraft like Airlander while studying at the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS).

The aircraft are under development by HAV, as a disruptive technology, and were introduced to HAV through the NPS alumni network. There is no need for ports or runways, the airlander aircraft can land on reasonably flat surfaces.

The project focuses on commercial innovation to adopt and adapt commercial sustainable aviation technology. Asset flexibility has previously been limited for inter/intra-theater lift where access to deep water ports and airfields to accommodate aircraft is limited.

Tom Grundy, CEO Hybrid Air Vehicles said: “Our Airlander hybrid aircraft represents a game-changing technology for ultra-low-emissions flight, that can also revolutionise the capabilities of the Department of Defense.

“Through our collaboration with Captain Ben Cohen and through the research and development work with the Naval Postgraduate School, we are demonstrating how private investment and commercial innovation can be adapted to enhance logistics, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations, and communications in the Pacific.

“The Zero Carbon Logistics Support Via Hybrid Aircraft project has the potential to transform the way the US Navy and Marine Corps conduct operations in contested and distributed environments, providing them with an unparalleled advantage in the region.”