War Fighters Cheer the Development of the Aeroscraft As It Continues to Move Forward During Congressional Testimony

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General Fraser USTRANSCOM Commander: [The Aeroscraft] has the potential to fulfill future defense transport needs, from sustaining operational logistics to humanitarian and contingency support roles.

General William M. Fraser III, Commander of United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) provided testimony and made statements on Thursday in regards to the Aeroscraft before the U.S. House Armed Services Committee on the State of the Command.

In his written statements, Gen. Fraser (USAF) stated to congress that “Airships represent a transformational capability, with the potential to bridge the longstanding gap between high-speed, lower-capacity airlift, and low-speed, higher-capacity sealift. From humanitarian or contingency support to enduring logistical sustainment operations, airship technology has the potential to fulfill future defense transportation needs. We encourage development of this and other commercial technologies that may lead to enhanced mobility capabilities in the future.”

This assessment echoes previous Commander testimony and Congressional comments in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act. Following is a transcript of Gen. Fraser’s testimony before the Committee, where he addresses the Aeroscraft during questioning by the committee and expresses encouragement in commercial development activities toward future enhancement of mobility and disaster response capability.

REP. LORETTA SANCHEZ: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, gentlemen, again for being before us today.

General Fraser, last year in your testimony to Congress, you commented, and I'll say it word-for-word here, "Hybrid airships represent a transformational capability bringing the longstanding gap between high-speed, lower-capacity airlift and low-speed, higher-capacity airlift. Across a range of military operations, this capability can be leveraged from strategic to tactical distances. From swift crisis-action support to enduring logistical sustainment operations, hybrid airship technology has a potential to fulfill factory-to-foxhole cargo delivery. We encourage development of commercial technologies that may lead to this enhanced mobility capabilities in the future." Those were your words. So my question is, are you still monitoring the hybrid airship progress?… Obviously, that may be in about three years there might be a commercially viable 66-ton hybrid airship. Do you still believe in this technology? Can you tell me a little bit about where you are in that sequence, please?

GEN. FRASER: Thank you, ma'am. And yes, I still stand by those words. And we have continued over the last year to follow the development of the hybrid airship. In fact, we also were very pleased to see the successful flight that Aeroscraft completed last year in their hybrid airship out in California. It was a very successful flight.
We were also saddened to see that the airship was damaged when the roof gave way. And they --

REP. SANCHEZ: Something owned by the Navy, by the way. (Chuckles.)

GEN. FRASER: We were saddened to see the damage that was done to the hybrid airship, but we have continued to maintain our contacts with Aeroscraft. We're encouraged by that successful flight, the demonstration of that technology. We're also encouraged by a recent report that I received from them out at Aeroscraft of the interest in the commercial sector to develop this capacity and this capability. I can see utility in the future to utilize something along those lines, especially when I look at some of the things that we've had to respond to as an example here in the United States, to be able to move great quantities into areas where you don't need a lot of infrastructure and something along those lines.

So we'll continue to monitor it. We'll continue to encourage the development of the hybrid airship as they continue to go forward.

REP. SANCHEZ: So you could see it as something that we could actually use in the future if it was a viable -- if it was proven, if it was built.

GEN. FRASER: Yes, ma'am, I do.

REP. SANCHEZ: Thank you.

A PDF transcript of the complete witness statement for Gen. W. M. Fraser III is available here.

General Fraser's complete testimony on the State of Command is available here.

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About USTRANSCOM: USTRANSCOM provides full-spectrum global mobility solutions and related enabling capabilities for supported customers' requirements in peace and war. USTRANSCOM is a unified, functional combatant command, which provides support to the eight other U.S. combatant commands, the military services, defense agencies and other government organizations. With its people, trucks, trains, railcars, aircraft, ships, information systems and infrastructure, as well as through commercial partners providing 1,203 aircraft and 379 vessels in the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) and Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement (VISA), respectively, USTRANSCOM provides the U.S. with the most responsive strategic mobility capability the world has ever seen.

About the Aeroscraft: An Aeroscraft is a new type of Rigid Variable Buoyancy Air Vehicle, designed to control lift in all stages of air or ground operations, including the ability to off-load heavy payloads without the need to re-ballast. For the first time in history, an aircraft has been designed to control and adjust buoyant and dynamic lift, creating a new paradigm for global air transportation and logistics. Poised to enhance the air transportation industry, the Aeroscraft will deliver opportunities for business and consumers globally through access to remote locations and by new VTOL cargo delivery capabilities. The key features of the Aeroscraft include a rigid structure, vertical takeoff and landing, and operational abilities at low speed, in hover, and from unprepared surfaces.

About Aeros: Founded 27 years ago in the U.S., the Aeroscraft Corporation (Aeros) has grown from a small aerostat production manufacturer to a leading FAA-certified airship producer and R&D firm for the aerospace industry. Aeros has achieved multiple FAA airship type certificates and operates with an FAA Production Certificate, while featuring a product line that includes advanced airships and tethered aerostats utilized in commercial and government applications throughout the world. Learn more at http://www.aeroscraft.com.

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