Huge Military Blimp Getting Ready To Fly and Spy

CommanderFrank

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The US military is either obsessed by size mattering or by an attack of nostalgia, but whatever the reason, a behemoth of a spying platform is almost ready for deployment. The Blue Devil Block 2 (which is neither devilish looking or blue) is longer than a football field and poised to spy on the battlefields of the world from 20K feet.
 

sfsuphysics

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All the "god damn military spending we're going broke" arguments aside.

a floating surveillance platform that could soon appear at war-torn combat zones the world over.
My worry is when this is floating above not-so-war-torn zones to "surveil"
 

Romale23

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There have been blimps over the Arizona mexico boarder for years, just sayin
 

NickJames

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hindenburg.jpg
 

Monkey34

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They are fing crasy! 20k feet? Any bets as to how many 40mm shots to bring it down?

I'm sure not many, but it would be more likely for SAMs like the stinger and other MANPADS to be more available - and just as deadly. Seems like every group under the sun has them.
 

aviat72

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I'm sure not many, but it would be more likely for SAMs like the stinger and other MANPADS to be more available - and just as deadly. Seems like every group under the sun has them.

A Stinger at 20K feet? Unless of course it is launched from the top of a mountain 18K feet high.

OTOH this platform is only useful where there is complete air-dominance. Think Afghanistan, Yemen etc.
 

BladeVenom

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A Stinger won't go that high, but anti-aircraft guns can. Even some World War One guns will shoot that high.
 

Ducman69

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They are fing crasy! 20k feet? Any bets as to how many 40mm shots to bring it down?
That's like asking how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop. No one will ever know. * launches missile*
 

conscript

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this isn't the hindenburg folks.. helium, not hydrogen. If you're picturing someone getting lucky with a bullet or missile...even if it could hit it, it woudn't explode. Second, almost no heat signature here, and certainly nothing compared to any countermeasure that would be thrown. I think the idea is for it to be shot at...and have the enemy give away their position.
 

DeathPrincess

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A Stinger won't go that high, but anti-aircraft guns can. Even some World War One guns will shoot that high.

Even shoooting at a blimp with a machine gun will take a looong long time to take it down. Unless you use incendary rounds...and it's full of/covered in something flammable...:eek:
 

Monkey34

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A Stinger at 20K feet? Unless of course it is launched from the top of a mountain 18K feet high.

OTOH this platform is only useful where there is complete air-dominance. Think Afghanistan, Yemen etc.

Your way off. Admittedly, the stinger range wont reach 20000 feet, but it will do 10000, and there's at least one russian one that will do just under 20000. I mentioned it because it is a commonly known SAM name.

I suppose they figure the people they will use it on will not have too much for heavy weaponry, but I could imagine some dope with a manpad flying a cessna up and shooting at it. Might make for a nice crash-n-burn, but if they think they could do damage...well, there have been plenty of idiots trying to be suicide killers already.
 

magoo

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Fuck it, use it for the SuperBowl and other sporting events.

Goodyear now has competition. Imagine the ads you could flash on something the size of a football field.;)
 

Uncle

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A Stinger at 20K feet? Unless of course it is launched from the top of a mountain 18K feet high.

OTOH this platform is only useful where there is complete air-dominance. Think Afghanistan, Yemen etc.

and I might add, no one has radar, in that area.
 

darkhunter139

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They are fing crasy! 20k feet? Any bets as to how many 40mm shots to bring it down?

Here is a comment on the article

"Hi Folks,
Whenever a LTA solution to a military or police type surveillance requirement is suggested there are a lot of posts saying how easy one would be to shoot down. There were some very interesting tests conducted on an old Skyship blimp envelope in the UK that involved hundreds of rounds being fired through it. The envelope still contained enough gas to have allowed a controlled landing several days after the test.
The reason is that at low speeds the internal pressure of the Helium is only slightly higher than normal atmospheric pressure, so the leak rate is very low as a result. It was even more fun when they tested normal contact detonators as they did not work and even most modern proximity missile fuses on the smaller IR missiles will not function either.
The military in Afghanistan love the idea that if the Ta...liban do manage to import a high tech missile system, that they might be tempted to take a pot shot at a passing Blue Devil or LEMV, because firstly they will probably miss due to the low IR signature of the diesels and even if they did hit one it should survive, secondly that would be a far less serious target than an airliner, but thirdly and best of all shooting at aircraft that carry high tech surveillance gear is one great way to give away your position, which is what they are trying to find in the first place.
Lastly if you still think I am just another HAV fan talking rubbish, then ask the obvious question, why can't the Taliban even shoot down stationary aerostats, as there are plenty of them in Afghanistan.
Regards JB (Airship & Blimp Consultant and Roger Munk fan club member)."


I don't know much about weapons and such but if that guy knows what he is talking about it seems like it might be pretty hard to bring down.
 

Ducman69

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Yeah that is a good point; when you're fighting sand-people, frugality and endurance makes the most sense.

Good research, and that does make sense. *pats darkhunter on the butt approvingly*
 

dderidex

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and I might add, no one has radar, in that area.

Not entirely sure this would show up on many radars. I mean, aside from any stealth coating they might choose to employ, modern anti-aircraft radar uses doppler shifts to sort out aircraft (which as a rule are usually moving 'towards you' or 'away from you' pretty quickly) from the surrounding clouds, mountains, etc. (This is one of the reasons that putting a beam aspect to incoming missiles is an important part of any defensive actions)

Until you get pretty close, it shouldn't look THAT much different from your typical cloud to radar.
 

macksomerville

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Since we are going to be continually sucked into Low Intensity Conflicts we might as well develop programs that will actually help our warfighters take it to the enemy. I would of loved to have something like this over my COP and when I was Iraq something like this to watch out on the thousands of miles of fucking roads I travelled doing Convoy Escorts.

Give a couple joes, a downlink tablet and let them search the AOR along with the equipment operators. Video analytics, etc.
 

Da1Nonly

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This is freakin awesome! But in all honesty, at 20,000 feet, looking at it from ground up its probably tiny. A little speck in the sky, how the hell do you think you will be able to shot it down?
 

Betaboy1983

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20k feet. Over a football field long.. Radar anyone? I'll leave it at that.
 

Bman123

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If it has no heat signature to lock on to shooting it down should be like finding a needle in a haystack.
 
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OK, the ww2 bofers 40 mm has a range of 23something thousand feet. (and the heavy shell 40 something)
You don't need hitech stuff, a couple of hits will render useless any electronics on it.
 

satsunada

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I'm not sure why you guys think this will just roll into combat zones, though it would be funny to see someone try and shoot it down at 20k feet.

I'm picturing more something for spying, constant presence, and just sheer frugality. This is hundreds of millions cheaper than launching a movable satellite and could still be just as effective. Also, it'd allow for easier triangulation for air strikes, coordinating troop movement, maybe lasing targets or even as a relay for better communication. Let's the satellites get used for more pressing needs. Factor in that it could be launched from anything, land or drop close to the ground damn near anywhere, and can avoid solar winds or dip below heavy cloud cover, and this is a pretty solid idea. Though as stated before, I wouldn't dare use this thing without air superiority.

Another thing, by the time you notice it's there, there's a real good chance that you're already screwed.
 

Wierdo

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A Stinger at 20K feet? Unless of course it is launched from the top of a mountain 18K feet high.

OTOH this platform is only useful where there is complete air-dominance. Think Afghanistan, Yemen etc.

Afghanistan has some of the highest mountains in the world, so this wouldn't be useful in many parts of it then.
 

satsunada

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Afghanistan has some of the highest mountains in the world, so this wouldn't be useful in many parts of it then.

Sure it is, low heat signature + possible TOTALLY silent running if it drifts down and you could use it for infiltrating special forces into mountain areas where a helicopter or C-130 can be heard for miles away. On top of that, it could get closer to the ground than a chopper and land essentially anywhere nearby. This all assumes it could be modded to or could carry maybe 5-10 soldiers + gear of course.
 

mesasone

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Just wanted to add a couple things. I know some airship designs employee multiple "cells", so even if you managed to shoot a hole it in and it started to leak, only the helium from the cell(s) which were punctured would leak.

Additionally, an earlier poster said all you would have to do is shoot it and the electronics would be damaged. Keep in mind that while the envelope (balloon) is the size of a football field, the electronics platform would be much much smaller and very difficult to hit.

Finally, a large part of the appeal of this airship is that it can operate at these high altitudes for over three weeks at time, basically making it omni-present.
 

laguerre

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Unlike taking a potshot at a helicopter that won't have time to deal with your harassment, this thing thrives on your stupidity. I don't know what the law states, but if you shoot at a military aircraft, whether US citizen with a BB gun or Taliban with a missle, regret is probably what will dominate your experience.
 

twelveparsex

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I'm sure not many, but it would be more likely for SAMs like the stinger and other MANPADS to be more available - and just as deadly. Seems like every group under the sun has them.

20k feet is too high for a stinger to touch
 
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