By 2011 the US Army’s Space & Missile Defense Command has plans to deploy a spy ship, which will be unmanned over Afghanistan. While this is a controversial move in itself, some eco-enthusiasts are applauding the consideration to model the aircraft after an experimental hybrid airship which took flight on a number of occasions in 2006.
The autonomous airship, which will be based on a model created by Lockheed Martin is a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) called the P-791, will be 250 feet in length, double the size of the original prototype and will have the capability of remaining buoyant in space, while unmanned for up to 3 weeks and 20,000 feet. The cockpit of the airship will be 40 feet long, 15 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet tall and will likely a contain a ground moving target indication radar, a wide motion imagery sensor and other intelligence devices; the tools of the trade necessary for any covert surveillance operation.
A contract will be awarded to begin development of the aircraft this year, which will model the original LEMV which was classified as hybrid as 80% of its ability to remain airborne is based strictly on buoyancy. The remaining 20% of its power is generated by six thrusters which are electrically powered by a central turbo generator, giving the aircraft the propulsion it needs to get to 20,000 feet.
If spy ships can go green, there surely has to be hope for the rest of the world!
Via: Aviation Week
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