back to article US to deploy 'optionally manned' hover-dirigible in 2011

The US military will deploy an "optionally manned" 250-foot surveillance airship to Afghanistan by the middle of 2011, according to reports. The dirigible spy-ship will be able to lurk high above Afghan battlefields for up to three weeks at a time, relaying information to ground commanders. Aviation Week reports that the …


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  1. Secretgeek

    "Missile Defence Command"

    Is it just with me that this phrase evokes memories of a trackball and rapidly lengthening lines of death approaching my cities?

  2. Yorkshirepudding

    air america

    remember the viet cong guy who took a pot shot in that film? nuff said

  3. Paul_Murphy

    LEMV hmm..

    'The new, bigger ship will be termed the Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)'

    Yes, very good, but it will still be called a 'blimp', 'zeppelin' or 'balloon' so giving it another name is pretty pointless.

    I suppose one way to address the bouyancy issue is to have a seperate 'blimp', which supports around 80% of the cargo weight and is attached to the top of the main unit, that is released at the same time as the cargo.


    You could even arrange for every cargo 'package' to have it's own tailored additional lift 'blimp' with it's own collett which the LEMV could connect to and provide the additional bouyancy/lift via it's own engines.

    Once the item is delivered it would just be a matter of disconnecting from the collet and flying away - the 'blimp' can stay connected to the cargo and is kept to be used for the next load to be taken away.

    That way the release of the cargo would be less traumatic.

    only a thought, I'll get my coat.


  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As If

    As if we haven't spent enough money on a pointless and unneeded war in Afghanistan already.

    ...and for what? So that they can rig elections (or was that us rigging them for the Afghanis?)

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Why not use hydrogen?

    it's a better lifting gas and you could design it to go crashing into the enemy if you were shot at. Not only that, you'd be able to explode or burn off the excess gas. Or just vent it without substantial cost (unlike pricey helium).

    Obviously the loitering version would use Helium. But the rapid insertion version could use hydrogen. It could even operate as a fuel source for propulsion either to make insertion quicker or to allow self-extraction.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    All your Blimp belongs to us.......

    ....Akmed the ded terrorist

    aka IKILLU

  7. TeeCee Gold badge


    ".... allowing the ship to suck itself down firmly in place......"

    As Mike the cool person would say:

    "That's one hell of a sucker and I don't mean that it's easily fooled."

  8. Anonymous Coward

    "Why not use hydrogen?"

    I refer the honourable gentleman to the icon on the left.

  9. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Big Brother

    A new kind of "hire and fire"

    Yeah, this is excellent.

    Then we can blow away all the terrorists that are actually the same as the policemen we just trained.

    I can't wait for this Long War faggotry-cum-pork-dispenser to end.

  10. Glen 9

    @"Why not use hydrogen"

    Would a mix of hydrogen and CO2 work?

    I know that CO2 is heavier then air but then hydrogen weighs less than helium so would it cancel out the added weight of the CO2?

    The CO2 would stop the massive exploding ball problem a bit and they are both cheap.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    H as a gas?

    Using Hydrogen as a lift gas? I think you should attend an Rship101 course, or should that be R101...

    So, tell me what happens when said aircraft is attacked by 20mm HET flak? or do the powers that be think all our 'enemies' only have SA missiles?

  12. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @Glen 9

    Would a mix of hydrogen and CO2 work?

    H2 2g per mole. CO2 44g per mole. IE volume for volume CO2 is 22x heavier than H2. The question is of course can you reduce the flamability of the H2 by diluting it with not too much CO2

    But then you could dilute it with H2 (4g per mole) instead.

    Provided you can find some way to seperate out the H2 from the dilutant in the first place.

    Mine will be the one with the Chemistry A level in the side pocket.

  13. Remy Redert

    re: H as a gas

    Correctly designed and built, esp. for unmanned cargo drops, I don't see the problem.

    Sure, hydrogen is highly flammable. But the pure hydrogen in your gas balloons is not going to random explode. If punctured, the balloon would burn, but probably not explode (Or at least, not until the hydrogen mixture in it is sufficiently mixed with oxygen from the air).

    Use hydrogen for unmanned drops of material and supplies into relatively safe areas, where the vulnerability of the blimp isn't a major issue. And if it does get shot down (One inevitably will), it'll probably cost a lot less than a helium lifted version or a full on drone copter.

  14. _wtf_


    I think that Glen will find that hydrogen mixed with carbon dioxide will still burn when mixed with air. Sure, if the mixture was mostly CO2 then it won't burn but then it won't lift either.

    Consider that the air that the Hindenburg burned in was mostly nitrogen, another inert gas. Didn't seem to help much, did it? Of course it would have burnt much better if the atmosphere was pure oxygen, but as is it burnt quite adequately.

  15. Mark Graybill

    Old Tech is "New" Again...

    Hybrid Airship = Avitor

  16. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @Remy Redert , @Glen 9

    @Remy Redert

    "Correctly designed and built, esp. for unmanned cargo drops, I don't see the problem"

    You are aware that this is not an option at present due to size? The current design is for a surveillance drone carrying about 2500Lb of equipment (about the same as a Vietnam era Huey).

    @Glen 9

    I meant He as the alternative dilutant. The idea has knocked around for some time and some Russian claims to have a way to do the seperation which was mentioned in a previous Reg article. Burning H2 down to water would also generate added ballast on site. The joker in the pack is that typically these payloads are single units and cannot be gradually offloaded while their weight is offset by the H2 burn.

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