Thales Alenia Space, the joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%) has signed a EU€43 million for the EuroHAPS (High-Altitude Platform Systems) demonstration project and announces its kickoff. EuroHAPS was selected by the European Commission on 20 July 2022 after a call for collaborative defence research and development projects from the European Defense Fund (EDF).
Thales Alenia Space is coordinating the European Consortium of 21 partners and 18 subcontractors, from 11 countries handling the project. EuroHAPS aims to develop several stratospheric demonstrators for missions designed to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and communications capabilities.
The project will conduct flight demonstrations for three types of complementary stratospheric platforms: A reduced-scale Stratobus from Thales Alenia Space, a solar-powered airship designed for long endurance missions; A Hybrid High Altitude (HHAA) from CIRA capable of generating extra lift with a wing airfoil; An Autonomous Stratospheric Balloon System (ASBaS) from ESG and TAO consisting of a series of three altitude-controllable balloons.
These three types of platforms are complementary and feature very different operating times, capacity and operational restrictions. They will give Europe a broad spectrum of solutions to meet a variety of different requirements.
The platforms will test a range of missions, including lidar observation to detect and classify targets at sea or on land, and fo the latter the ability to detect them in environments with vegetation cover.
EuroHAPs is reviving the use of high-altitude platform systems for government and defence missions with the support of six defence ministries (France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Hungary and the Czech Republic), the European Commission, the French sud regional authority and the Canary Islands region.
HAPS offer a new opportunity to complement ground-based, satellite-based or airborne assets with unique capabilities tailored to operational requirements.
These flight demonstrations of HAPS will allow to demonstrate different platforms, address the main technical risks associated with these new technologies, while refining operational requirements to ultimately enable development of future HAPS systems.
“We would like to thank all the institutional investors contributing to this project for their confidence and support in making this demonstration a reality,” said Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space. “It is undoubtedly one of the most ambitious demonstrations ever undertaken, and will make Europe a pioneer in this new aerospace segment.”