skip to main content

SNC to trial ISR high-altitude balloon for UK MoD

SNC to demonstrate stratospheric ISR capability to UK MoD (Sierra Nevada Corporation)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has selected Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) unmanned high-altitude balloon (HAB) as part of Project Aether, the company announced on 10 August.

Project Aether is a UK MoD programme that seeks an unmanned stratospheric ultra-persistent communication and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.

An SNC spokesperson told Janes that the company intends to launch the platform in September during a 12-day period in the southwestern region of the US.

The MoD is soliciting bids for the next phase (Flight 2), which is expected in 2023, the SNC spokesperson added.

According to an MoD pre-qualification questionnaire (PQQ) issued in December 2021, Project Aether is a GBP100 million (USD120 million) programme that will span from 31 May 2022 to 31 December 2023.

The PQQ stated that the stratospheric unmanned system must be “on task for several months at a time … with minimal maintenance efforts and [have] global reach”.

HAB can outperform other platforms with its ability to integrate larger payloads and recover the payloads quickly, Josh Walsh, vice-president of programmes for SNC's Mission Solutions & Technologies business, said in the announcement.

Walsh added that “balloons offer higher operational altitudes than aircraft and can provide longer observing times at much lower size, weight, power, and cost than traditional ISR platforms”.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...