Blue Devil Block 2 airship has friends in high places

A pair of influential U.S. senators are upset about Air Force plans to cut the 370-foot-long Blue Devil Block 2 airship program and have informed the Defense Department that they believe it would be “a significant failure to stop work and not deploy” the platform to Afghanistan, reports Noah Shachtman at Wired’s Danger Room blog. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Daniel Ionuye (D-Hawaii) stated their position on the matter in a Feb. 14 letter to Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

The Air Force, as part of its budget cutting agenda, is expected to cut the program soon given that the airship requires an estimated $188 million annually to operate. The airship flies at 20,000 feet and can stay aloft for multiple days at a time providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information on at least four square kilometers at a time with the biggest load of high-powered sensors possible for an aerial surveillance platform, the story said.

Meanwhile, the Army is set to flight test its own giant airship known as the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, which it also plans to deploy to Afghanistan as a powerful eye in the sky for hunting down insurgents, according to the story.

Both airships have experienced program delays. At this point, it’s anyone’s guess whether either will actually one day fly over Afghanistan, the story said.

Reader Comments

Thu, Apr 5, 2012 Joe Bloggs Lindau, Germany

The LEMV is one great fuel efficient type of aircraft for surveillance or off airport cargo operations. Northrop Grumman and Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd in particular, have the type of experience to develop a very useful new LTA vehicle. Not so sure about who the design team at MAV 6 are, although they do have some good engineers and the USAF seems bent on deflating the project which is a waste of funding as it is nearly complete and if they do have design or engineering delays the team at HAV Ltd are more than capable of taking over the task of finishing the Blue Devil blimp.

Thu, Apr 5, 2012 James Bond London Blighty.

Sad they seem intent of binning the Blue Devil blimp before it gets deployed to Afghanistan, as it could be of great use along the Southern US boder. The LEMV is nearly ready for first flight and later use in Afghanistan. If you want to see more on the new cargo and heavy lift hybrid air vehicles try: www.hybridairship.net or for a laugh, try Gasbags lighter than air comedy web site: www.hybridblimp.net

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