Investment in Regent Aims to Spur Military Seaglider Development

New funding from Lockheed Martin and Yamato Holdings opens defense and parcel delivery markets to Rhode Island company.

A rendering shows the Regent Viceroy seaglider configured for military personnel transport. [Courtesy: Regent]

Regent, the Rhode Island company developing electric wing-in-ground effect vehicles called seagliders, recently received investments that could result in its craft hauling military personnel and making parcel deliveries.

The company said it received a strategic investment from Lockheed Martin Ventures, which is the venture arm of defense and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT). The funds are meant “to expedite the development of seagliders for defense missions,” Regent said.

Seagliders are designed to combine the speed of an airplane with the lower operating cost of a boat, flying low over water in ground effect at 180 mph, or 156 knots, with a range of up to 180 statute miles, Regent said.

“Seagliders fulfill a recognized need within the U.S. Department of Defense for high-speed, low-cost, low-signature, runway -independent mobility in the littorals,” the company said. “With capabilities for carrying passenger, cargo, or hybrid payloads, Regent seagliders are uniquely suited for a variety of civilian and defense applications in maritime environments, including logistics resupply, cargo transport, and search and rescue.”

The Lockheed Martin investment marks an expansion beyond the Regent’s initial focus on using seagliders for coastal intercity civilian passenger transport.

“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. “This investment reflects our commitment to innovating technologies that have the potential to transform the way we adapt to our customer’s needs and support mission success."

Regent also received a strategic investment from Yamato Holdings, a large Japanese logistics and parcel delivery company, marking a move into the Japanese market and into a specific role in the delivery business.

“This investment from Yamato sets a clear path forward for our vision on seagliders to serve the critically important middle mile routes that connect high-volume freight carriers coming into port with last mile delivery services,” said Billy Thalheimer, Regent’s co-founder and CEO. “Partnering with Yamato brings seagliders to this market, and we look forward to identifying new ways to increase efficiencies within their supply chain and distribution networks.”

Regent said it has accumulated more than $7.9 billion in orders for seagliders from customers including Mokulele Airlines and Southern Airways Express. The company said it plans to have its 12-passenger seaglider, called the Viceroy, in service by the middle of this decade.

Jonathan Welsh is a private pilot who worked as a reporter, editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal for 21 years, mostly covering the auto industry. His passion for aviation began in childhood with balsa-wood gliders his aunt would buy for him at the corner store. Follow Jonathan on Twitter @JonathanWelsh4

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