Pentagon Bringing Back the Blimp

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The blimp doesn't have to be stealthy, because that isn't it's role. For surveillance in an area where you already have overwhelming air superiority (afghanistan, iraq, any insurgency) Then it's perfectly fine. And with a payload of 60 tons, you can stick one hell of a surveillance package on it. Throw in a couple of rockets and your end result is a predator with unlimited range, and huge amounts of ammo. Also what insurgent weapon can hit something at 12,000ft+? Because it's hollow and no engine, IR wouldn't be able to lock it. Stick some LED's on the bottom and now it is virtually invisible during the day, and will be invisible at night.

Robert0288:
The blimp doesn't have to be stealthy, because that isn't it's role. For surveillance in an area where you already have overwhelming air superiority (afghanistan, iraq, any insurgency) Then it's perfectly fine. And with a payload of 60 tons, you can stick one hell of a surveillance package on it. Throw in a couple of rockets and your end result is a predator with unlimited range, and huge amounts of ammo. Also what insurgent weapon can hit something at 12,000ft+? Because it's hollow and no engine, IR wouldn't be able to lock it. Stick some LED's on the bottom and now it is virtually invisible during the day, and will be invisible at night.

I imagine the primary issue is simply the height, let alone all the other cloaking factors. They will not have weapons that can reach nearly half that height.

All we need is for it to have a giant display on the bottom "OBEY".

Also: Fuckyeah, airships!

Zen Toombs:

Tis Castle Wulfenbach, from the glorious webcomic, Girl Genius.

I recognized it. =D

doggie015:
An airship that pumps helium into compressed tanks to control it's altitude... Not a bad idea until one of the tanks bursts...

The air force uses liquid oxygen right now, for breathing oxygen. There's risk for a lot of stuff, but I think they've got most of it figured out.

teqrevisited:
If there's been one thing that I've consistently wondered about and cautiously wished for it's a second age of airships.

Me too. Hindenburg aside, the Germans had an incredible safety record with Zeppelins. Just look at the Graf Zeppelin. That thing did some serious mileage. If the British, Italians and Americans copied them more closely, airships wouldn't have got the bad rap that they did.

Also if America -the only source of Helium at the time- gave some of it to the other nations, there wouldn't have even been an issue with the Hindenburg.

Then we might have had a bit more of this:

image

My first thought

OT: seems kinda interesting, I remember the old blimp hangers my dad worked at on El Toro airbase. It's kinda silly but I always liked blimps.

Ve have Vone advantage zey sorely lack.... ZEPPELINS!

Well, if it doesn't work out with the military using them as to do recon, I'm guessing there's a place for them with civilian use.
Cruise-air-ships.
People pay a lot to go on cruises, seeing beautiful coastal areas, so why not do the same with airships? Might need a bit of work to make a luxury blimp, but if they do, I imagine it could become popular.

What is this? American government considering efficient and ecological methods for their military hardware. What is this? Are we going to see a American government that is not crafted from frozen stupid and capitalism.

Does this mean that America might have the technology to reduce military costs and maybe invest the money on something smart?

Woah...

Good work pentagon - for first time I am proud of you.

Also this isn't sarcasm. I really think this is a good idea and change the military spending to not so stupid and astronomical figures.

Tho helium has been scare lately, so that might be issue... But hey it is America they found a way to blow up a city in one go so I am sure they come up with something.

uzo:
This is relevant to my interests. (I work in logistics/freight)

I'd be fascinated as well to see what we could do with tall ships. Take modern engineering and materials, and apply the shipping techniques of pre-steam vessels. It'd be slower, but you'd have practically zero emissions (presuming we use solar power and small wind turbines). It'd increase the cost of international freight, as you'd require more crew, but that may well be a good thing.

The ease of transport internationally makes manufacturing and construction overseas cheaper and faster than producing locally. This is exactly the sort of shit that would put the ball back in the West's court. Our physical worlds would become smaller again (international travel would again become the realm of the rich and powerful), but it'd be fantastic for local economies.

And I also just imagined an airship shipping dozens of cows through the sky ... rollin' rollin' rollin', keep those airships rollin', rawhide!

40 - 60 years and pretty much all manufacture will be done in one's own country again. Economics. As nations begin their industrialization, they can produce things at a cheaper rate. As the nation nears the end of that process, the prices of production begin to level out. No one goes to japan for cheap labor anymore, but 15 - 20 years ago they did. Before that, it was the US. China's turn now, then india, then maybe(?) an african nation like egypt(?) not sure if there is a high enough population density in any african countries to support a worldwide production shift like US, Japan, China, India.

Just a thought.

Fluffythepoo:
Isnt the world going to run out helium this century? Or is that bit of trivia not supposed to be in my head?

Yeah that was my first thought too.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/why-the-world-is-running-out-of-helium-2059357.html

It says we have about 20-30 more years of it left, unless we start recycling it.

Grey Carter:
Hello, Airplanes? It's Blimps, you win.

Another Archer fan I see. ;)

When it comes to Surveillance it all depends on who your using it on. In general someone being able to see you only matters if they have the range to do something about it. In a sort of catch-22 type situation if we were to float blimps above a certain altitude over places in The Middle East, Asia, etc... and they were shot down for spying, by doing so the nations in question would be revealing themselves in violation of arms bans that limit their missle ranges and such. Of course that only works if your willing to actually do something about it.

That said, at a high altitude, camoflauging something like this would be relatively easy, going back decades Disney was doing some fairly impressive things with camoflauge, and ther have already been a few digital projects that made me think they could be adapted to try and hide something like this in the right circumstancs. Being largely held up by a balloon the blimp probably has a low power signature too. In theory if you were to say put a bunch of blimps above a nation like China, sandwiched between the ground and their satellite assets in orbit (ie at very hugh altitude), in a time of war it might make a great way of jamming transmissions and such if you had them secretly in place to begin with. An interesting way of setting up a bunch of sleeper, EW drones.

I'm just discussing basics, the point is that with a bit of innovation I can see a lot of things that could be done with the technology (sometimes low tech is the best tech) from a military perspective, especially if they can get them to the point where they can stay airborne pretty much indefinatly with minimal active power use.

Otherwise the stated "civil" use is actually fairly ingenius, because I can see it being a cheaper way of hauling cargo than using actual cargo planes, assuming you do it in a fairly safe area.

uzo:
This is relevant to my interests. (I work in logistics/freight)

I'd be fascinated as well to see what we could do with tall ships. Take modern engineering and materials, and apply the shipping techniques of pre-steam vessels. It'd be slower, but you'd have practically zero emissions (presuming we use solar power and small wind turbines). It'd increase the cost of international freight, as you'd require more crew, but that may well be a good thing.

They actually did that - in the early 1900's, four, five and six masted steel schooners carried coal from England to the West coast of the US (around South America) and other places. They got by with very few crew, actually, mostly by being really horrible to the people that worked on it (nothing like furling and unfurling sails in a winter gale at the top of a mast with too few people to do it)

They eventually lost out to coal powered ships - they just weren't cheap ENOUGH compared to the increased speed and reliability of steam power. With automated furlers and such, they could possibly stage a renaissance, but given most bulk carriers now burn really, really cheap fuel (though a lot of it), I'd be surprised if the math worked out.

Mocmocman:

Zen Toombs:

Tis Castle Wulfenbach, from the glorious webcomic, Girl Genius.

I recognized it. =D

Yay! Tis always nice to see another... what do they call Girl Genius fans? Regardless, it's always nice to see another of those.

Tiger Sora:
War aspects usefulness: Negative.

Intelligence gathering: Relatively Unless. Possible use as communications craft. Easy target

WMDogma:
Pentagon Bringing Back the Blimp

Along with ferrying supplies around, the Pentagon is already thinking of how it could be used for surveillance missions, albeit one has to wonder how inconspicuous a giant floating balloon might look overhead in a warzone.

Actually, the Tethered Aerostats made by Raven Aerostar have proven extremely useful in Afghanistan in the fight against IEDs and tracking the movement of nearby enemy forces, but mostly IEDs. These are stationary surveillance balloons which can stay in the air for several months. It's a life or death situation now for the soon-to-be independent government there, and tethered balloons have made an impact, for better or for worse:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/13/world/asia/in-afghanistan-spy-balloons-now-part-of-landscape.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

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The article is about powered blimps though, and too much focus is shed on these new technologies, but the US government is a crafty beast, so I'm not willing to write off the idea of powered blimps entirely. You see, it's not always about the product but rather the technology involved. Even though the Rumsfeld-era Pentagon killed off the stealth Comanche helicopter in 2004, someone dusted off their thinking cap and the technology helped out a little later on.

Squilookle:

Me too. Hindenburg aside, the Germans had an incredible safety record with Zeppelins. Just look at the Graf Zeppelin. That thing did some serious mileage. If the British, Italians and Americans copied them more closely, airships wouldn't have got the bad rap that they did.

Do you know more about Zeppelins? I read that the crews were issued these flameless, self-heating meals, like in cans. They would only heat up when opened. It sounded so cool, like the predecessor to the MRE.

Gilhelmi:
No, they were phased out because of the Germans were using Hydrogen instead of Helium (though the low-grade "rocket fuel" paint did not help either). They got an unfair reputation for being unsafe.

They had no other option. Helium was known to be safer, but the only source was the United States and Germans were forbidden from buying it under the Treaty of Versailles. There were German-American partnerships later on in the 1920s that gave German airships access to American helium.

Then the Nazis came to power, and they, not unreasonably, saw airships as utterly worthless for combat. The main reason they didn't get rid of them as soon as they came into power is because zeppelins were so beloved by the German public, partly because Ferdinand von Zeppelin had been so respected. A later US military embargo denied helium for the Hindenburg so they were forced to use hydrogen, and everyone knows what happened next.

FizzyIzze:
Do you know more about Zeppelins? I read that the crews were issued these flameless, self-heating meals, like in cans. They would only heat up when opened. It sounded so cool, like the predecessor to the MRE.

Not sure about that, the Hindenburg had a kitchen and a smoking room. Maybe it was the zeppelin bomber crews in World War I who had self-heating meals.

DVS BSTrD:
I'm not sure a flying watermelon is that much more stealthy.

Beat me to it. :(

FizzyIzze:

Do you know more about Zeppelins? I read that the crews were issued these flameless, self-heating meals, like in cans. They would only heat up when opened. It sounded so cool, like the predecessor to the MRE.

You can just buy those if you want. They're called hot cans, and they're commercially available. From internet reviews i heard they don't taste that great, but they're pretty cool.

Does seem like it would be pretty cool to have the occansional blimp pass over head,reminds me a lot of the alternate universe in fringe.

Burst6:

FizzyIzze:

Do you know more about Zeppelins? I read that the crews were issued these flameless, self-heating meals, like in cans. They would only heat up when opened. It sounded so cool, like the predecessor to the MRE.

You can just buy those if you want. They're called hot cans, and they're commercially available. From internet reviews i heard they taste pretty bad, but they're pretty cool.

Thanks, man! When I Googled 'hot cans' I was expecting a very different set of search results. Heh.

Remus:
This has me wondering where they're going to get the helium for a project like this. Isn't there a shortage right now?

Oh well nothing wrong with using old fashioned hydrogen. Just dont smoke anywhere near it.

There's a lot of problems with blimps. Helium is getting rarer and rarer on earth since it's disappearing out from our atmosphere, blimps can easily start leaking, and they do not have the same maneuverability as most other air-borne vehicles. I'm sure it has its pros too, but unless it's made from kevlar and use something else than Helium, I don't see how it can be justified.

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