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.

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