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European Commission invests in high-altitude platforms

Stratobus, developed by Thales Alenia Space, is a non-rigid stratospheric airship with fully autonomous electric propulsion. The concept has been optimised around a 140 m long airship that operates at altitudes of 18–20 km and has more than 1,000 m 2 of solar cells. The aim is for the system to carry 250 kg payloads. (Thales Alenia Space)

Thales Alenia Space, along with a consortium of 21 partners, will develop high-altitude platform systems (HAPS) following investment from the European Commission.

Known as the EuroHAPS demonstration project, Thales Alenia Space – a joint venture (JV) between Thales and Leonardo – will co-ordinate the development of three different stratospheric platforms, following a EUR43 million (USD45.4 million) contract signed with the European Commission, the JV announced on 9 March.

The platforms will be used to test a range of capabilities and missions including in intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) as well as communications and electronic intelligence. Light detection and ranging (LIDAR) observation, to detect and classify targets at sea or on land including in vegetation cover, and a meshed broadband communications network will also be trialled.

EuroHAPS was selected by the European Commission in July 2022 after a call for defence research and development projects from the European Defence Fund (EDF). The project is receiving support from the Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, and Spanish ministries of defence (MoDs), the announcement said.

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