Come this fall, there will be a new and extremely powerful supercomputer in Afghanistan. But it won’t be in Dave Petraeus’ headquarters in Kabul or at some three-letter agency’s operations center in Kandahar. It’ll be floating 20,000 feet above the war zone, aboard a giant, robotic spy blimp that watches and listens to everything for miles around.
That is, if an ambitious, $211 million crash program called “Blue Devil” works out as planned. As of now, the unmanned airship’s “freakishly large” hull — seven times the size of the Goodyear blimp’s — has yet to be put together. The Air Force hasn’t settled yet on exactly which cameras and listening devices will fly on board. And it’s still an open question whether the military can handle all the information that the airship will be collecting from above.
The military is spending billions on a fleet of lighter-than-air craft. But none of those other airships will have Blue Devil’s on-board smarts. Listening devices will pick up cellphone chatter for miles around. Surveillance cameras can watch the outside of a compound or a car. Infrared lenses can spot insurgents setting up nighttime ambushes. Targeting radar tracks vehicle and foot traffic. Receivers and transmitters can relay orders or collect information from movement detectors planted in the ground.
Originally posted by CastleMadeOfSand
That thing better have good defensive capabilities. It only takes one bullet or rocket to bring it down leaving only a pile of multi-million dollar scrap.