Giant airships would keep longer watch over troops

Contractors will test new designs in June and July

The Army and its contractors are developing for future deployment giant airships that would provide high-altitude, persistent surveillance of large swaths of territory and stay up longer than some of the smaller aerostat systems already deployed in Southwestern Asia, reports Defense News.

Lockheed Martin Corp. will test fly this summer its High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator airship that is 70 feet in diameter, can carry a 50-pound surveillance and communications repeater payload and stay aloft as high as 70,000 feet for up to two weeks.

Also scheduled for testing this summer, and possible deployment to Afghanistan by December 2011, is Northrop Grumman’s Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle aerostat that will provide surveillance at 20,000 feet for three weeks at a time.

Defense Systems Update

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