Lockheed Martin is dipping a toe in the sea of electric aircraft offerings with “major investment” in the ground effect sea skimming Regent Seaglider. The unusual application has gathered a reported 400 orders, mostly from airlines that have a lot of short island-hopping routes. But Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, sees a new role for the 12-seat machine. As the U.S. intensifies efforts to curb China’s ambitions in the Pacific, the market may be ripe for a sea skimming assault vehicle.

“We see defense strategy evolving toward an island-hopping force featuring agile, affordable, and distributed craft,” Regent founder and CEO Billy Thalheimer said in a news release. “This investment is a strong signal that seagliders can fill this immediate need in the high-priority missions faced by our Department of Defense. Lockheed Martin’s expertise and resources will be invaluable as we work together to adapt seagliders for defense use cases that are critically important to national security.”

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

22 COMMENTS

  1. They are the opposite of stealth.
    They will need to be constantly throwing out very strong radar wave forward just to try and miss obstacles. Not sure that you would want something that is broadcasting continuously on a ‘clandestine’ mission.

  2. What goes around comes around! the Soviet Union (Evil Empire) developed some extremely large and very fuel inefficient craft like these. Called WIG (wing in ground effect) machines. To be built by ship builders AFAIK. Also called the Caspian Sea Monsters.
    History repeating itself. Imagine taking a 15 pound Pelican (because his beak can hold more than his belly can :)) at 150 knots right in the face!

    • Exactly right question Joe P.. People don’t seem to grasp the fact that glassy smooth water is a rare thing. I spent 11 years in Hawaii and have seen the constant wind swells and their doubled up waves that happen. Swells reflect off of the coast and go back to sea and swells pushing against currents can make for chaotic unpredictable conditions. Do you really feel safer being close to the surface? You would be only feet from from trouble all of the time. Drag a wing tip or have one end of the foils hit some chop after emerging and things can go wrong fast.

  3. Agreed, Dennis.

    If this was a good/viable business model they would already be plying the seas with proper piston or turbine engines.

    I see it as an answer to a question nobody asked, other than the Soviets (and got an answer of ‘No’), but it would be cool. With a petrol burning engine.

  4. Unclear on the advantages that this might offer as an assault vehicle or weapon. Large, slow, limited maneuverability and easy to spot.

  5. YGBSM !!! At first, I thought this was an April Fool’s joke. Maybe it IS ??

    Other than for limited use in small numbers by special ops guys, this is a nutty idea.

    • A sea skimmer that runs on big batteries (that have to be charged for hours) and has a big rooster tail of spray is JUST what ‘special ops’ needs. Must be a line item in “Build Back Better”.

    • I learn lotsa new terms or words here, too, William 🙂 Every now and again PB slips one in on me necessitating a google dive, too.

  6. I don’t see the advantage of this concept over the use of a CH-47 or an MH60. Where will it go to re-charge its batteries, and how long will the re-charge cycle take to complete?

    Too many people have become mesmerized by the promise of electric power and the concept of distributed propulsion without full consideration of the support systems required by electric power. These folks don’t realize it, but battery power comes with a real, although invisible, extension cord.

    • Read it and weep: (Apparently, Lockheed Martin doesn’t agree?)

      msn.com/en-us/news/world/net-zero-is-a-trojan-horse-for-the-total-destruction-of-western-society/ar-AA19eKvr?

      But don’t worry … our military is Diverse, Equitable and Inclusive so … why not have sea skimming electric contraptions, too. That oughta finish the job?

  7. I am wondering how many negative commenters here really watched the video.

    Did you notice is was a hydrofoil vessel/plane? that makes a difference when it comes to some level of chop. Once airborne it had a height that could also handle normal waves/chop. As to electric, what is quieter, a couple of ICE engines with either large whirling blades or 4 on a large airframe.

    It is hard to say id this is a good idea, but I don’t think this is meant to be a long haul delivery system so recharge could be handle by a surface ship.

    As to a rooster tail? What? Where? Again the video show no such thing and when in hydrofoil mode the wake was equal or less then a outboard engine. I cannot imagine that any military op using Seals would allow Rigids in high stormy seas so the argument for it can’t handle big wavers applies across the board.

    As to use, it could provide a high speed transition to a shore line in the dark to drop off a team then later provide quick and fast egress. perhaps it can move under or not be well detected by radar if built with stealth technology and who ever mentioned it needing radar to avoid pelicans, you don’t think a 130 or 61 would not need the same? Or maybe, just maybe they use LIDAR to try and detect objects.

    If I have any objection, it is just another expensive toy for the MIC and if they want that one, then they need to drop something to balance out the cost, ie, it replaces, not adds. From technology viewpoint, I think it is on very solid ground to move goods and people at high speeds across the water without taking up airspace. Traffic control would be the biggest concern.

  8. After watching the video, I would suggest that, once the craft becomes airborne, they have some way to either retract or raise the tip floats (pontoons?) to make it less likely to drag a wingtip during a maneuver. To me, that would be the biggest hazard of choppy water “flights”.

  9. I must say, if it is real program Avweb made a fantastic joke by posting it on April 2nd to make us wonder if it was true or not. A really bad idea regardless.

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