Anti-missile system to use blimp 25 times larger than Goodyear’s
Special to World Tribune.com
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The United States has been developing what could become a new concept in destroying enemy ballistic missiles in their boost phase.

The concept calls for stationing a huge blimp out of enemy aircraft or missile range that would detect preparations for and launch of any enemy ballistic missile. The blimp would then relay the information to fighter jets that would shoot down the enemy launcher or missile.

The project has been sponsored by the Defense Department’s Missile Defense Agency. The agency has awarded Lockheed Martin a $40 million design and risk reduction contract to advance a project to develop and demonstrate a prototype of a high-altitude airship that could remain in the air for one month.

Lockheed Martin executives said the airship would be 500 feet long, 160 feet in diameter and have a volume of 5.2 million cubic feet. This would be about 25 times larger than the blimps seen at athletic events.

"We share the Missile Defense Agency’s vision for the high altitude airship and the many roles it can serve over our domestic borders and distant theaters of operation," said Al Barber, vice president at Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors.

"Its long time on station and ability to carry different payloads will provide multi-mission capabilities not possible with other assets. When launched, the HAA will commence a new era in flight."

The project calls for the demonstration of the airship in 2006. The first phase of the project involves drafting a concept of an airship that can remain afloat for one month at an altitude of 65,000 feet. The facility would have a payload of two tons and provide 10 kilowatts of power.

Israel and the United States have been experimenting with BPI concepts since 1996. Israel had envisioned a network of unmanned air vehicles that could remain in the sky for several days at a time to monitor enemy ballistic missile activities.

But the Lockheed Martin project calls for one facility that would remain stationary. The airship would also have autonomous flight control capabilities.

In another development, two U.S. contractors have conveyed a proposal to the Pentagon to upgrade the E-8C aircraft into a system that would rapidly detect a missile launch as well as estimate its point of impact.

Northrop Grumman and Textron Systems drafted the proposal. Under the proposal, Textron would mount its Theater Airborne Warning System on the J-STARS [Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System] aircraft.

Sorry guys, but every time I read this, I keep looking for Doctor Evil. Besides, the folks at VillainSupply.com have beaten them to it:

"Stealth planes? Modern armored attack helicopters? Jets? Missiles? BAH! There was a time when supervillainy wasn’t about flashy hardware, but about sheer evil genius and its application against a timid populace; in other words, style mattered over technology. Those were the days of the evil zeppelin, and Steambender Industries LLC presents the latest in lighter-than-air malevolence: the Z313 Zeppelin of Death.
Armed with a patented Hypergauss Death Beam Cannon and air-to-air flak launchers, the Z313 features virtually flat payload/range curves for military airlift applications, i.e. very large cargo capacity is allied to low fuel consumption and very long endurance. The length of four 747s, the Z313 can carry 1,000 tonnes of cargo, and features sumptuous onboard accommodations designed with the supervillain in mind.* It can travel four times as fast as the world’s biggest cruise ship at a top speed of 110 knots; and can cross the Atlantic and back without refueling, with a 6,000 plus mile range. The zeppelin’s mylar-coated skin comes in a variety of fashion colors, and can be adorned with the logo of your cabal or evil NGO.

Price: US$50,000,000.
*other modern airships use cheap noncombustible helium, supposedly for safety purposes. The Z313 is filled with good old-fashioned hydrogen; this highly combustible gas can be detonated spectacularly by an obvious and accessible red self-destruct button on the bridge."

Posted by: Mike Kozlowski 2003-10-22