American Goverment had evaluated the role of the Airship and
seen that it could be used as a multi role craft. Plans were
made and an agreement made to construct the Sentinel 5000, a
large military airship.
5th June 1987 Westinghouse/Airship Industries were awarded a 170
million dollar contract to design an Operational
Model (ODM) as part of the USN Airship Programme - Defence Advance
Research Project Agency, winning it from Goodyear Aerospace.
Inital specifications were of course to change as with all plans,
the contract being for the largest non rigid airship ever produced.
An envelope of over 400ft long compared to the 193ft of the Skyship
600. The Volume being of a huge 2,500,000cft (half as much as
the R100). The concept was to life a gondola of some 80 ft long
comprising of 3 decks, crew accommodation, operations centre and
a flight deck. The gondola was made of a modular construction
comprising of 3 modules running fore to aft, foreward modules
being the pressurised crew compartment, operationals and flight
controles. A second module was adapted to carry the fuel and a
winching system and the third to house the engines, accessible
in flight for servicing. A crew of 15 was to run the ship, mostly
to operate the surveillance equipment.
The design called for a ceiling of over 10,000ft and so the commange
and crew module had to be pressurised. Ferranti Electronics were
to design the flight deck avionics continuing the use of "fly
by wire" controls as used in the Skyship 600. Fibre optics
being used for the low radar signiture as the ship as a whole
was to virtually be a "stealth" ship constructed of
composite materials. The only thing which would betray the ship
to other searchers would be it's own radar signature.
The ship was required to undertake astandard 3 day endurance cruise
at 45 knots ( 55mph). The power units used were to be a pair of
leightweight turbo charged 1800hp PPB diesel marine engined developed
by CRM of Italy. For sprint speeds, the assistance of a single
GET700 1700hp turbo prop engine was to be used to reach a 90 knott
Initially it was noted that the Sentinel 5000 to incorporate a
E2-C Hawkeye radar suite, complete with an enlarged 40ft rotating
antenna in the envelope of the ship. However this was still undecided
as the project continued as to which radar was to be used. It
was also agreed that the ship should have the capability of defending
itself and should surface or air vessels fail to provide this,
then it was proposed that the ship iteslf with air to air medium
and short range missiles, and decoy mechanisms.
The idea was that the military version be produced first, then
a commercial varient, the Skyship 5000 be constructed. The Skyship
5000 was planned to have a 140 seater twin deck gondola.
in 1998 A prototype full scale mock up was constructed, a gondola
ring at Cardington followed by a fully scalemockup at Lakehurst
NJ. The plans were that a ship would be flying within 4 years,
by 1992. but with the problems of funding and delays in providing
the finances, the ship was never put in to operation. These delays
lead to Airship Industries falling in to receivership in September
The commercial viability of the Skyship/ Sentinel 5000 never proved
as it was the only airship which was planned and almost produced
to construction by Airship Industries, yet never flown. From the
10 years which Airship Industries flew their first ship, the company
was nearly to the point of producing the first large scale airship
which had been seen since the R101.
below are the passenger varient, SkyShip 5000 artist impression
and planned layout.