UK’s Future High-Altitude Military Balloon Completes First Demo

US aerospace firm Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has completed the first demonstration of a rapidly deployable high-altitude balloon (HAB) in Page, Arizona.

The HAB is an uncrewed capability for stratospheric communications as well as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions (ISR).

During the demonstration, the HAB was launched and flew northeast above several states to more urban environments.

“We are very pleased with the successful results of this demonstration,” SNC Mission Solutions & Technologies Executive Vice President Tim Owings said

“SNC has extensive experience working with researchers and industry on high-altitude C5ISR technologies and this demonstration simply reinforces our commitment to delivering superior development, integration and deployment services to customers around the globe.”

The next phase of HAB demonstrations will include a 60-day test flight.

UK’s Project Aether

SNC’s HAB flight test is part of the Project Aether Flight 1 Assessment Phase contract awarded to the company by the UK Ministry of Defence.

Launched in 2021, Project Aether will develop communication and ISR capabilities for long-duration military missions requiring less maintenance and resupply.

According to SNC, the platforms and tools utilized to develop the HAB are at TRL-9, the highest technological readiness level.

“Our team is very excited to be working with the UK MOD on this project,” SNC Mission Solutions & Technologies Senior Programs Director Bill Leonard said. 

“SNC has considerable experience with these ‘lighter than air’ high-altitude platforms and collection systems.”

“We are confident that our HAB both meets and exceeds the mission requirements of our MOD customer, as well as other SNC partners around the world.”

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