Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Giant Blimp of Kandahar

I have caught a couple of Internet reports in the last of weeks about a large white blimp that has been flying over the Afghan city of Kandahar.

"Many people believe it's a spy blimp that can see through walls to look at our women," -- Ghulam Ghami

What could be it is a scale model technology demonstrator for Lockheed Martin's LEMV, the long endurance, multi-intelligence vehicle.

The LEMV is being designed to meet the need for a vehicle capable of staying on station for dozens if not hundreds of hours while accomplishing a variety of intelligence, reconnaissance and technical support missions. It will orbit the battlefield at around 20,000 feet for up to three weeks without coming down. It will be 250 feet long and house all sorts of spy gear.
I would expect high resolution cameras, infrared cameras, motion detectors, and radars. Other equipment and sensors such as magnetic anomaly detectors and chemical sniffers might also be mounted on such an aircraft in the future. It will takeoff from a short runway. The LEMV will be a hybrid airship, s heavier than air with a semi rigid hull. It will have gas compartments to get some of its buoyancy and belly mounted turbines to help launch it into the air.

So far the info is that Lockheed has not yet built a LEMV, but it has completed and tested a half sized model called the P-791, which flew in 2006. Reports state that this blimp is lit up at night and it is obviously quite visible in the daylight, and one might expect more stealth out of a spy ship. This could also be any other type of weather balloon or something, but I find it is more interesting to imagine what something might be. Plus, we have been spending enough money on this stuff to get some benefits.

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