Not your typical “Zeppelin” this new-technology airship has some novel features. After 20 years of development, first order now sought.

Lockheed Martin (Static C2) is not the first to be enthused by the possibilities of the giant cargo airship for transportation off the beaten track. But it thinks it can succeed where many predecessors have failed. Accordingly, at Tuesday’s Paris Air Show, it announced a partnership with Hybrid Enterprises to sell the 20-ton payload LMH-1 tri-lobe craft on the civil market.

The venture builds on 20 years of work, most recently with the smaller P-791 technology demonstrator. A LMH-1 could be certified in 2017 and delivered the following year, although no prototype will be constructed until a firm order is secured. So these dates could slip.

Cementing the new partnership in the Show ceremony were Orlando Carvalho, EVP Lockheed Martin Aeronautics; and Rob Binns, CEO of Hybrid Enterprises. The latter company is staffed by professionals experienced in sales and marketing of cargo aircraft and exclusively committed to the LMH-1 and any larger versions to follow.

Your typical “Zeppelin” it is not. When fully laden, a helium-filled LMH-1 generates 80% of its lift from gas displacement and the remainder by dynamic means from its wing-type shape. But when unladen, it is buoyant.

“Landing gear” is best described as a couple of air cushion vehicles on the underside, which slow the descent and facilitate ground taxiing. The even more clever bit is that once taxiing is complete, they are reversed into “suck” mode and the craft anchors itself to the ground. No more mooring masts.