Old 5th Mar 2019, 19:03
  #489 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2014
Location: New Braunfels, TX
Age: 66
Posts: 1,954
Originally Posted by Evalu8ter View Post
"Justify the huge amount of money" - The entire US Army LEMV programme was, at a maximum, $500m including all of the sensors etc. Even assuming that the HAV was even 50% (extremely unlikely) that's a NRE of $250m, plus an estimated £25m per copy. Yes, there have been grants & funds to tick the company over, but, I don't think significant in the big scheme of things. HAV has been run pretty lean, without huge government subsidy. Contrast to, say, the $15Bn development cost of the Airbus A350 (plus subsidies….) and it doesn't seem a "huge" amount of money to me?

"Most surveillance tasks can be covered by drones" - not seen a UAV yet that could haul 8000kg of sensors aloft for 3-5 days; Global Hawk is probably the closest and, IIRC, carries about 2000kg of payload (and at a unit cost of $200m+ per copy with the continued issue of access to airspace…). Doubtless GH is also significantly more expensive to operate.

HAV sits in a hard place. As Liddell-Hart opined "The only thing harder than getting a new idea into a military mind is getting an old one out". This is HAV's problem; the military have some ossified thinkers and thinking. When I was in the mob we did a comparison of the HAV to the P-8 as an MPA; the HAV won on pretty much every aspect except absolute ceiling and speed to a datum. It was cheaper to buy/fly, had longer endurance, could carry vastly more weapons, sensors, sonobuoys, was more spacious and comfortable (we even looked at having two crews aloft - one operating, one resting). At a given distance from shore, the HAV could deliver an effect that would take 4-5 P8s to deliver….once it got there, of course. It became very clear, very quickly, that the Nimrod Mafia wanted a jet so they could ponce off around the world doing Fincastles and visits "just like the old days" and were simply not open to thinking about the needs of the mission.

Yes HAVs have limitations - lots of them. TAS, upper level winds, mooring restrictions etc are all significant issues. But providing infrastructure for "conventional" aircraft isn't cheap, and in times of pinching budgets, sometimes the perceived "best" is unaffordable….
I sincerely hope these guys are successful. Really. But realistically, I just don't see it happening. It seems to me that an airship is just that: an airSHIP. It seems to have most of the disadvantages/limitations of both and few of the advantages of either.

KenV is offline