The Aeroscraft buoyancy management system employs side engines capable of tilting the craft, which allows for vertical takeoffs and landings and eliminates the need for runways, ground support or any type of on-theground infrastructure. These capabilities will aid the U.S. military’s efforts to supply cargo to forces rapidly and efficiently in areas of conflict around the world that lack sufficient infrastructures. The Aeroscraft also could deploy troops to areas with rugged terrain, such as Afghanistan.

“There are commercial, military and other high-level interests in accessing those areas of the world that hold valuable resources that are inaccessible,” says Fred Edworthy, vice president of business development at Aeros. “We have also focused on logistics companies moving project cargo — particularly those working in austere environments with a lack of infrastructure, or those [transporting] heavy, irregular loads.”

Earlier this year, Reps. Grace F. Napolitano, Brad Sherman, Judy Chu and Adam Schiff secured $15.5 million in federal funding for commercial development of the airship, as the U.S. military stands to benefit from the technology. Aeros says it has also obtained funding from numerous other private and government entities.

Pasternak says the U.S. defense market already is a key client for other products supplied by the company. “Our tethered aerostats and FAA-type certified airships have been equipped with the high-tech surveillance gear and radio-telecommunication equipment that have helped various security agencies around the world to carry out their missions,” he says.

But military agencies aren’t the only ones interested in the Aeroscraft. Edworthy envisions other applications, such as shipping perishable fruit and vegetables, lifting pipeline components and assisting in rescue operations. Delivering aid to victims of a tsunami or transporting rescue teams into areas decimated by natural disasters are two possible scenarios.