New Unmanned Airship from Sanswire

Sanswire Corp., based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, announced that it has unveiled a new lighter-than-air UAS, the “Argus One” following the Company’s recent filing of a provisional patent application. The airship is designed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications for the US military and other governmental agencies. It is apparently “Newly Designed and Constructed and Ready to Fly” …

Argus One is a lighter-than-air (LTA) UAS designed to fly over areas of interest for extended durations carrying various payloads designed to allow for ISR, communications and other applications. Argus One has low acquisition, maintenance and operational costs compared to heavier-than-air UAS currently in operation. The design and construction of Argus One follows years of research and development by the Company of alternative LTA technologies and solutions and combines innovative approaches to LTA technology proprietary to Sanswire. Argus One is Sanswire’s initial LTA UAS equipped with the Company’s newly developed, proprietary stabilization system that autonomously controls the level of rigidity of the airship in flight. This airship design significantly differs from many of the LTA platforms that have been in operation for over a century.

Argus One was specifically developed by Sanswire using US developed technologies that take full advantage of the microelectronics and command and control technologies protected under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) for potential US Government and approved commercial customers. The Company is also refocusing its efforts on establishing relationships with research and development and flight facilities in the US for development of the Argus line of airships.

Argus One was developed for Sanswire under contract by Eastcor Engineering, a US Department of Defense prime contractor, specializing in high technology engineering products and services. Sanswire and Eastcor continue to work together on Argus One and other technologies at the Company’s hangar facility located on the grounds of the Easton Airport in Easton, MD, where the Argus One is currently housed.

Sanswire Chairman Michael K. Clark stated, “The unveiling of Argus One represents a key milestone for the Company and brings us another step closer to commercial production of our airships.”

Sanswire CEO Glenn Estrella added, “Argus One is the airship we believe can address and help with many of the ISR and communications challenges facing the world today, both domestic and abroad. We look forward to demonstrating and proving Argus One’s capabilities and potential.”

As part of this refocused business strategy, the Company has entered into a Settlement Agreement with TAO Technologies that, among other things, terminates all existing agreements between the parties and provides for the dissolution of the Sanswire-TAO joint venture.

As part of the Settlement Agreement, TAO is entitled to retain all consideration previously paid to it and the debt owed by the Company under the prior agreements of approximately $2.5 million has been discharged. The Company is currently in discussions with TAO to develop a mutually beneficial relationship for future efforts. The Company plans to continue to review all outstanding debts on its balance sheet as part of an ongoing initiative to reduce the Company’s liabilities and strengthen its balance sheet.

Some Background:

In October 2005 GlobeTel Communications Corp announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, Sanswire Networks LLC signed an agreement with TAO-Technologies (TAO) in cooperation with the University of Stuttgart in Germany to design several next-generation airships intended for multiple uses.  And in September 2007 the company signed a letter of intent with Germany-based TAO Technologies whereby GlobeTel would purchase 50 percent of TAO.  In 2008 a Joint Company was established by the name of “Sanswire-TAO” in Florida.

Then, in July, 2008 Sanswire-TAO Corp., filed a patent application in Germany for “Segmented Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Equipped With Energy Medium.” This new concept represents a complete re-thinking of airship design Sanswire and TAO will demonstrate that long endurance stratospheric flight is possible.”

SkySat - A More Conventional Blimp

On its web-site, Sanswire claims that the company recently completed a sale of its SkySat UAS for up to $ 1 million in Q2 2010 to a US Defence Contractor. Yet press releases in April 2010 suggested that “Global Telesat Corp. (GTC) has agreed to purchase a 50% interest in one SkySat airship for $250,000, with an option to purchase the remaining 50% for an additional $750,000.”  GTC formally accepted the airship after inspection by third party defence contractor Eastcor Engineering on behalf of GTC after shipment of the 126-foot unmanned aerial vehicle to GTC’s engineering facilities in Maryland.

Sanswire will need to land a few more big contracts rather quickly unless its investors take a very long view of the market for lighter-than-air UAS. The company’s published results for 2009 show total assets of $3.8M with total liabilities of $17.8M and a (negative) Total Net Income of – $9.4M during the year.

Sources: Sanswire Press Releases

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