Lockheed Martin Ventures, the venture capital arm of U.S. aerospace and defense group Lockheed Martin, is investing an undisclosed amount in the next generation of wing-in-ground-effect technology.
On March 22, the company revealed a so-called strategic investment in Regent, a Boston-based aerospace and maritime company, to accelerate electric Seaglider development for national security and defense applications.
Regent Seagliders are all-electric, zero-emission vessels that combine the high speed of an airplane with the low operating cost of a boat. These maritime vehicles operate exclusively over water and leverage existing dock infrastructure to carry people and goods up to 180 miles (290 km) at speeds of 180 mph (290 km/h) between coastal destinations.
While Regent has so far focused on developing its Seaglider technology for civilian applications, the deal with Lockheed Martin also opens the door to the defense market. Regent suggests its Seagliders could fulfill a recognized need within the U.S. Department of Defense for high-speed, low-cost, low-signature, runway-independent mobility in the littorals.
With the ability to carry passenger, cargo, or hybrid cargo, Regent gliders are uniquely suited for a variety of civilian and defense applications in maritime environments, including logistics resupply, cargo transport, and search and rescue.
“We see defense strategy evolving toward an island-hopping force featuring agile, affordable, and distributed craft,” said Billy Thalheimer, co-founder, and CEO of Regent. “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.”
“We believe that Regent Seagliders can bring tailored solutions to the future battlespace,” said Chris Moran, vice president and general manager of Lockheed Martin Ventures.
Regent says it has sold more than 400 of its aircraft to aviation and ferry customers, including Mokulele Airlines, Southern Airways Express, FRS (Germany), and Ocean Flyer (New Zealand). With more than $7.9 billion in orders from commercial operating partners around the world, the company aims for its 12-passenger Seaglider, Viceroy, to enter service by mid-decade.