The US Army and Lockheed Martin have launched the first high-altitude long-endurance – demonstrator (HALE-D) in Akron, Ohio, US.

The aircraft could not reach its target altitude of 60,000ft due to a technical problem and the flight was terminated at an altitude of approximately 32,000ft.

The HALE-D team demonstrated a number of key technologies critical to the development of unmanned airships.

The HALE-D is an unmanned solar-powered lighter-than-air vehicle designed to demonstrate advanced new technologies and capabilities to protect US soldiers through improved communications in remote areas.

The airship will act as a stationery long-term overhead platform for a telecommunications relay system that will expand the range and reliability of battlefield communications.

Lockheed will conduct a full evaluation once the airship is recovered.