It might sound like a insane concept but organizations like DARPA and Lockheed Martin are looking into it. A cargo blimp could potentially expand and
speed up the strategic airlift capability of the US substantially while simultaneously reducing costs. No longer would the military have to rely and
be restricted to deep-water ports and slow cargo ships that today can take weeks -- even months -- to get a division and its material ready to
DARPA has a current Blimp project code name
HULA (Hybrid Ultra Large
The Walrus operational vehicle (OV) is intended to carry a payload of 500-1,000 tons (that's 1-2 million pounds) up to 12,000 nautical miles, in less
than seven days
That would be amazing strategic airlift capability , further enhanced by the fact such a airship could operate without significant infrastructure and
from unimproved landing sites, including rough ground.
Civilian companies like Germanys Cargolifter
have already went on to build blimps for the purpose of lifting
cargo, the CargoLifter CL 160 AKA the flying crane for example which will transport oversized loads of cargo weighing up to 160 tons.
DARPA'S WALRUS project seems to be in danger of termination. The 2007 Budget request from DARPA calls for the termination of work on WALRUS after
completion of the current Phase I contracts. I will explain why I have a feeling the project may really be going black.
The biggest draw back to the Cargo blimp concept is its vulnerability. Lets face it, its while faster then a ocean cargo ship still a large slow
moving target waiting for a SAM to knock it out of the sky. I'm sure we all remember the Hindenberg
Looking into current technology and classified military projects have lead me to believe this can be over come. As the old saying goes "You cant hit
what you cant see"
One classified project we know the government is working on is electro-optical camouflage
also known as "invisibility stealth".
Basically projecting a image of what's behind a object in front of it and vice versa. We don't know really how far the military project is along but
we do know the concept works thanks to civilian work like that of Professor Susumu Tachi of Japan and his "Stealth Jacket" and this guy is playing
with chump change compared to the DOD.
These Airships could also be made to have great "IR-Stealth" and "Acoustic- Stealth" (It wont have any hot jet exhaust) Thanks to electrical
engines and the altitude it could fly at it could easily be designed to fly say 30,000 feet over your house and you would never know.
So now depending on how far the electro-optical camouflage is we are very close to having a undectable Airship the last great hurdle is Radar stealth.
I'm no expert in this field so I could be wrong but I think its possible to create a stealth blimp with a current stealth tech. For example with a
Blimp and the speeds it will fly at you are going to have a much greater variety of shapes you can use in construction. I don't see any reason why
the balloon section cant be made in a diamond shape which seems (Hopeless Diamond) to be darn near ideal for stealth.Im sure there would be other
hurdles but I don't see it as a impossible problem. I know there are people on ATS that know a lot more about Stealth then me so I would love to here
peoples input on the subject.
If these concepts would work this could be a very important platform, maybe even for roles beyond strategic airlift.
- Airborne radar platform or electronic warfare
- Weapons platform, Lasers like the ABL
- Perhaps even a UCAV mother ship
I mean there's a lot of lifting ability to make different variants. It clearly wouldn't be as fast as say a 747 as used in the ABL laser like I
mentioned but it could be designed to have really long loiter times that may off set that.