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DARPA's Heavy-Lift Walrus Blimp on the Rise

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posted on Sep, 7 2005 @ 11:19 AM
DARPA's Walrus program to develop and evaluate a very large airlift vehicle has moved forward. Despite early descriptions of "war-balloons" in late nineteenth century science fiction, this isn't your father's (not to mention great-grandfather's) dirigible airship. It is intended to carry a payload of more than 500 tons 12,000 nautical miles in less than seven days at a competitive cost.
Relying on deep-water ports and billion-dollar airports to move its men and machines keeps the Army stuck in molasses mode. It can take weeks -- even months -- to get a division ready to fight. Take the 4th Infantry Division, for example; it missed out on the first months of the Iraq war, waiting for its gear to take the slow boat in from Turkey.

Darpa, the Pentagon's mad science division, has a typically far-out solution: a gi-normous airship that can take an 1,800-person "unit of action" anywhere in the world, without infrastructure, in four days.

The scheme, code-named Walrus, is just, er, getting off the ground. But the agency is clear about what it wants: a prototype "tri-phibian" (air, land, sea) zeppelin with a range of 6,000 nautical miles, ready to go aloft by 2008.

Please visit the link provided for the complete story.

Half jumbo jet and half blimp, will this mode of travel revive the failing airline industry or is it just another weapon to add to the military arsenal to fight the war on terror? The largest fuel guzzling Boeing 747 cargo jet can only carry 400 tons, the Walrus will carry 500 tons far more economically.

Related News Links:

[edit on 7-9-2005 by Regenmacher]

[edit on 10-9-2005 by DJDOHBOY]

posted on Sep, 7 2005 @ 12:53 PM
The question is though, how easy are these things to shoot down? Sea ships are difficult to attack, and defensive measures are mounted on them. But a glorified balloon flying gracefully through the air is a sitting (or flying) duck. If I read the article correctly (although strangely the quoted text doesn't appear in the linked article) the blimps would carry personnel as well, up to 1,800. That's a lot of troops to lose if one is shot down by a terrorist with a shoulder mounted SAM.

posted on Sep, 7 2005 @ 02:22 PM
This is very interesting. I wonder if something like this would take of in regards to civilian air travel - kind of like a cruise ship of the skies...


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