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The military already employs a fleet of blimps to look for enemies and relay communications. But none of them are as big, as high-flying, or as far-seeing as this Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, or LEMV. It’s supposed to float at 20,000 feet for up to three weeks at a time, snooping on absolutely everything below with a variety of sensors.
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Pentagon plans blimp to spy from new heights
The giant dirigible would use radar to closely and constantly monitor activity on the ground from 65,000 feet.
March 13, 2009|Julian E. Barnes
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Thursday that it intends to spend $400 million to develop a giant dirigible that will float 65,000 feet above the Earth for 10 years, providing unblinking and intricate radar surveillance of the vehicles, planes and even people below.
"It is absolutely revolutionary," Werner J.A. Dahm, chief scientist for the Air Force, said of the proposed unmanned airship -- describing it as a cross between a satellite and a spy plane.
The 450-foot-long craft would give the U.S. military a better understanding of an adversary's movements, habits and tactics, officials said. And the ability to constantly monitor small movements in a wide area -- the Afghanistan- Pakistan border, for example -- would dramatically improve military intelligence.
"It is constant surveillance, uninterrupted," Dahm said. "When you only have a short-time view -- whether it is a few hours or a few days -- that is not enough to put the picture together."
The project reflects a shift in Pentagon planning and spending priorities under Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who has urged the military services to improve intelligence and surveillance operations while cutting high-tech weaponry costs.
If successful, the dirigible -- the brainchild of the Air Force and the Pentagon's research arm -- could pave the way for a fleet of spy airships, military officials said.
Originally posted by Aim64C
Even so, with the way laser point-defense systems are coming along, I doubt a blimp is really going to have much to fear for very long.
Bet it's not an ark at all. Bet it's the prototype escape ark for the elite in 2012. They have to start testing it, and they know people would notice it in the skies, so they have to come up with an excuse.
Where did you get 65000 feet? I was reading what the OP said:
Originally posted by C0bzz
At 65,000 feet it's going to be out of range from shoulder launched missiles, and small arms fire.
It’s supposed to float at 20,000 feet for up to three weeks at a time, snooping on absolutely everything below with a variety of sensors.
Originally posted by Big Raging Loner
reply to post by dbates
A possible new terrorism target? If that thing came down in a built up area would cause some serious problems. Seems like a waste of money. UK is getting new military class drones soon from BAE systems, for 2012 I believe.
Originally posted by C0bzz
At 65,000 feet it's going to be out of range from shoulder launched missiles, and small arms fire. It's not as if insurgents have S-400 sam launchers, or extremely high powered lasers either.