[NetBehaviour] Pentagon plans blimp to spy from new heights.
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Mon Mar 16 11:50:10 CET 2009
Pentagon plans blimp to spy from new heights.
The giant dirigible would use radar to closely and constantly monitor
activity on the ground from 65,000 feet.
By Julian E. Barnes
Reporting from Washington -- The Pentagon said Thursday that it intends
to spend $400 million to develop a giant dirigible that will float
65,000 feet above the Earth for 10 years, providing unblinking and
intricate radar surveillance of the vehicles, planes and even people below.
"It is absolutely revolutionary," Werner J.A. Dahm, chief scientist for
the Air Force, said of the proposed unmanned airship -- describing it as
a cross between a satellite and a spy plane.
The 450-foot-long craft would give the U.S. military a better
understanding of an adversary's movements, habits and tactics, officials
said. And the ability to constantly monitor small movements in a wide
area -- the Afghanistan- Pakistan border, for example -- would
dramatically improve military intelligence.
"It is constant surveillance, uninterrupted," Dahm said. "When you only
have a short-time view -- whether it is a few hours or a few days --
that is not enough to put the picture together."
The project reflects a shift in Pentagon planning and spending
priorities under Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has urged the
military services to improve intelligence and surveillance operations
while cutting high-tech weaponry costs.
If successful, the dirigible -- the brainchild of the Air Force and the
Pentagon's research arm -- could pave the way for a fleet of spy
airships, military officials said.
However, it marks the return to a form of flight that has stirred
anxiety and doubt since the 1937 Hindenburg disaster. Thirty-six people
were killed when that airship went up in flames in New Jersey.
More information about the NetBehaviour