Logistic support remains the key constraint to global maritime task group operations.
The future force will require logistic support that is globally responsive and integrated with commercial solutions
On July the 3rd 2019, Managing Director of Faradair® – Neil Cloughley, met with the Secretary of State for Defence – Rt Hon. Penny Mordaunt to discuss the BEHA M1H hybrid electric aircraft development programme, along with the associated opportunities to deliver a British designed and manufactured aircraft, for a variety of roles within UK Armed Forces.
The meeting was also attended by Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Defence – Rt Hon. Alex Chalk, MP for Cheltenham and the Chairman of the Defence Select Committee – Rt Hon. Dr Julian Lewis MP.
The meeting held on July the 3rd, updated developments with the aircraft, the potential capabilities and opportunities for UK Armed Forces with the asset and the challenges faced by the business over the last five years.
Launched in 2014 and initially developed for civilian hybrid electric regional air transport opportunity, the BEHA M1H has design origins based on the world’s first combat UAV (Unmanned Air Vehicle) designed in the UK nearly 30 years ago, four years before the US MQ1 Predator was created.
With extensive personnel experience in ‘joined-wing’ flight demonstrators, the Faradair® BEHA M1H builds on proven legacy and at the Farnborough Airshow 2018, Faradair® revealed the military specification variant of the BEHA (Bio Electric Hybrid Aircraft). The unique capabilities of the aircraft and the significant opportunities that the aircraft could deliver toward future non-civilian operations, the BEHA is a Joint Force multiplier, freeing expensive Rotary Wing assets for specialist tasking.
The decision not to fit ‘cats n traps’ to the two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, adds a logistical complexity in addition to a range of other operational restrictions, where a fixed wing manned or unmanned asset, may be able to go further, faster, quieter and more cost effectively than a helicopter or tilt-rotor asset.
Due to the BEHA M1H extreme V-STOL capabilities, the aircraft will be able to operate from the new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, at maximum payload. In addition, the asset could take on other roles and missions, such as coastal border patrol and drug interdiction operations, allowing more valuable assets to be deployed in areas of greater need.
The BEHA M1H is an innovative multi-role support aircraft (BEHA) that exploits novel technologies to deliver a flexible, agile and cost-effective solution; seamlessly linking Joint Force and contractor logistics direct to the carrier flight deck.
- Maritime logistics support (Air hub direct to ship – 5 tonne cargo bay)
- Littoral manoeuvre (up to 30 troops inserted at 1000nm RoA)
- Extreme STOL, low noise signature, short wingspan.
- High availability, low operating costs.
Faster, quieter, more efficient, lower maintenance and acquisition costs than a helicopter or tilt-rotor with greater range and payload capability, the BEHA is a multi-role platform able to conduct a range of operations in manned or unmanned configurations including: Logistics resupply; Medevac both manned and unmanned variant; Combat Search and Rescue; Special Forces’ counter-terrorism and global strike operations, enabling faster, stealthier deployment at range.
Agile modular mission loads could deliver force multiplying capability such as: Battlefield ISTAR and strike; ASW/ASuW/AEW; refuelling capability either land or aircraft carrier based; electronic attack and denial; airborne command centre.
Faradair® is developing the BEHA to operate quietly, from austere sites, on all surfaces, in any weather environment, with extreme STOL capability requiring less than 300m of take-off runway when fully loaded.
The BEHA will be a fixed wing, all carbon composite aircraft in ‘Triple-box wing’ configuration, allowing the asset to lift extremely high payloads (5 tonnes) in three LD3 containers internally or hard-point external loads. The aircraft has low heat and radar signature, powered by a hybrid-electric turboprop with contra-rotating ‘propfan’.
The propfan is shrouded by an acoustic duct to reduce noise and increase thrust efficiency up to 220kts with vectored thrust capability for slow flight manoeuvres. The safety redundancy of electric flight capability as part of a combined, single propulsion system, offers extra capability over existing aircraft designs in addition to increased stealth capability with low heat, noise and radar signature.
The BEHA can take off and land without the need of Steam/Electric catapults and trapping devices. This makes the asset one of the few fixed wing aircraft that could operate from the new HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales aircraft carriers.
The BEHA is roughly equivalent in size to a BAe Jetstream 31 and it has been designed to sit within the footprint of the new aircraft carrier lift platform, allowing for on-board storage when required. Systems to enable full autonomous flight capability are being tested in the United States, with Faradair® programme partner test aircraft already flying fully autonomous sorties on test ranges.
The Faradair® BEHA aircraft development programme could create 1000 new high value jobs in addition to securing thousands more within the Supply Chain and the company is now actively discussing its future base of operations.
Founded originally to be a new British Aircraft manufacturer, the last five years have proven to be a challenge within the UK innovation funding environment, within a market so heavily focused toward supply chain support of existing aerospace primes.
In a world where the Chinese Government can build an airport for 100 million passengers for the cost of $9billion, whereas an extra runway in the UK appears to cost $14billion and where UK projects are being told to break down their whole aircraft development programmes for Innovation funding into technology sub-projects, whilst overseas competitor whole aircraft arrive funded and produced in 18 months, the United Kingdom is going to have to change its innovation funding and business culture if it is to compete internationally.
The BEHA M1H is a British designed aircraft, with proven capabilities and a growing list of partners prepared to help develop the first full size flying prototype, set to fly in 2023 with potential in-service capability for 2025.
For further information about this exciting hybrid electric aircraft development programme, please contact us.