They were once the future of travel. Now, more than 70 years after the Hindenburg crash, engineers are designing a new fleet of airships.
Archive for the ‘Blimps’ Category
They were going to be enormous. They were an ambitious engineering concept. There were supposed to combine aerodynamics, thrust vectoring, and buoyancy to create lift. They were to be heavier-than-air, and they were unaffordable.
Lockheed Martin and Aeros Aeronautical Systems had contracts from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to build concept models that could care 500 tons over 12,000 nautical miles in less than seven days.
I’m not the Walrus Anymore
According to an article in the current edition of Defense Technology International, no funds have been appropriated to continue the Walrus program for Fiscal 2006, and DARPA is in the process of closing out the first phase and ending the program.
There’s still hope, however. It appears from this image from Aeros Aernautical Systems, that we could see United States Postal Blimps landing in large urban parks with 16-wheelers driving though the park to load and unload mail from the blimp’s cargo ramp.
And you thought that those joggers and bicyclists on the park paths were annoying.
Blimps Gone Postal
Seems like a great idea to me. Postal blimps. Fly like and Eagle….
About 6 million dollars is going to Lockheed and Aeros Aero nautical Systems for the first phase of the Walrus.
This is not Pork.
It just looks like Pork. The idea is to build a blimp that can move 500 tons 12,000 miles in less than 7 days. The $6 million dollars is for the first six months of the initial phase of the project. This first phase will produce a prototype about the size of a C-130.
The second phase will produce a winner that will get three years and more big bucks to come up with a demonstration model.
Again, this is one of those little clues that somebody has way too much money to spend.
And, no, it isn’t a good idea to use a blimp during a hurricane.
Integrated Systems Solutions Inc.* Pomfret, Md., is being awarded a
$64,073,299 ceiling-priced cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite delivery,
indefinite quantity contract for research and development services to
increase the government’s understanding of Lighter Than Air platforms
and their usage for sensor technologies.
Services to be provided
include experimenting with outfitting commercial blimps with sensors
and a tactical data link, equipping an airship with Electro Optics
/Infrared /Hyperspectral cameras to provide all-weather, day-night
surveillance, the use of an Advanced Airship Flying Laboratory to
provide a flying laboratory for testing sensors, the use of high
altitude airship surveillance, the creation of Hybrid Ultra Large
Aircraft , and training of Test Pilots to fly airships.
Work will be
performed at Patuxent River, Md., and is expected to be completed in
April 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current
This contract was competitively procured using Broad
Agency Announcement with one offer received. The Naval Air Warfare
Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting
The Pentagon is obsessed with airships.
One of the latest visions from the folks inside the five sided building is the Ascender. Battlefield communications and reconnaissance are two possible uses for the Ascender.. (Warning, PDF file) This updated version of an airship is designed to operate at the edge of space and will be two miles across.
Still another (Above) comes from Mobilus initative supported by the Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation. Read about Mobilus here.
I’m sorry. I can’t help myself.
Here’s another blimp story from the Navy Times.
AKRON, Ohio — Government officials and Lockheed Martin Corp. announced a $24 million plan Thursday to update an old blimp factory for construction of a high-flying, remote-controlled blimp prototype to monitor U.S. borders and scan the horizon for enemy missiles.
Lockheed Martin in September received a contract worth about $40 million from the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency to design and build the unmanned, helium-filled airship that would patrol at 65,000 feet (19,500 meters) and be able to lift about 4,000 pounds (1,800 kilograms).
The company’s Airdock plant in this northeast Ohio city once was the site of mass production of Navy airships during World War II, and before that, much bigger hydrogen-filled airships.
On Thursday, the state, city and Summit County Port Authority announced an array of grants, loans and tax incentives to prepare the Airdock, which will be owned by the Port Authority and leased to the company.
The prototype is expected to be complete by summer 2006.
The Bosch Aerospace Division of Information Systems Laboratories will supply the Army with two blimps to fly over Bagdad, according to a story in the November 19th edition of Jane’s Defence Weekly.
Bosch Aerospace is the developer of the “Rapidly Elevated Aerostat Platform” (REAP) which is basically shot out of the back of a HUMMER or a pickup truck.
The Army is looking to enhance their “situational awareness” in Bagdad and believes that a couple of blimps with infra-red sensors and electro-optical cameras will do the trick.
Correctomundo on the need to enhance their situational awareness, but may I suggest that blimps may not be the ultimate way to go?
Ever optimistic, they say that the blimp isn’t vulnerable to sniper fire as the helium leaks out of small bullet holes very slowly and they have cleverly supplied the blimp with a tube running up the tether to replenish lost gas.
Does this remind you of Wile E. Coyote?
There’s no mention of how fast helium leaks out of RPG-size holes.
This image is from the Bosch web site. I don’t know about you, but this strikes me as just a little weird.
(Washington, D.C.)—Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) today criticized the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for spending $600,000 on a blimp to fly at sporting events. The blimp is part of a $30 million ad campaign to make Medicare better known to seniors. It will tour the country in the coming weeks, appearing at football games and other events. The blimp reads “1-800-Medicare,” a hotline the public can call with questions about benefits.
“The notion of advertising an entitlement program is strange to begin with,” CAGW President Tom Schatz said. “It is like advertising the air that we breathe. That $600,000 would be better spent hunting down the $13 billion of waste, fraud, and abuse that plagues the current Medicare system.”
“A blimp and a hotline will do nothing to solve the maze of confusion surrounding the Medicare program,” Schatz continued. “Medicare is in trouble and the last thing taxpayers need is more hot air.”