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Not that that affects me or anything...

Anyway, all you foil-hat wearers might want to trade your helmet in for a body suit.

From The Guardian

It is the ultimate in unmanned drones: the Pentagon has revealed plans for a surveillance aircraft that will fly more than 12 miles above the ground for 10 years without landing.

More survei-liciousness below!

The US military hopes the blimp, floating 12 miles above a surveillance area in near space, will give it a better understanding of events on the ground. It will be equipped with a radar system able to provide unprecedented detail over a wide area from hundreds of miles away.

"It is constant surveillance, uninterrupted," Dahm said. "To be able to observe over a long period of time, you get a much better understanding of how an adversary operates."

The craft - called Isis - will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells recharged by its own solar panels, and will be filled with helium, which will give the craft its shape. The deployment of a blimp will raise memories in the US of the Hindenburg disaster in 1937, when three people [sic (actually 36)] died after the airship went down in flames in New Jersey.

I don't dare blockquote any more, but it will cost $400 million to develop.  The initial prototype will measure 450 feet in length, and a much smaller version will be due by 2014.  

For starters, I for one feel much safer knowing that the Dept. of Defense can see every inch of the earth from 12 miles up, in high resolution.  I feel especially safe knowing that for $400 million dollars, they'd be crazy to only equip them with optical sensors.  I'm sleeping well knowing that if there are terrorists hiding indoors, there will be giant floating blimps keeping a watchful eye on everything using inexpensive and well developed infra-red technology.

And while we're at it, if we're spending millions of taxpayer dollars on strange new weapons, I'm glad we decided to go with blimps.  It has a victorian industrial steampunk vibe to it which I find to be ironically amusing.  I suppose chuckling wistfully to myself will have to replace my previous favorite hobby, nude sunbathing.

From this link, it appears the contract was awarded to Lockheed (surprise surprise) with some involvement by Ratheon.

Thanks for reading!

UPDATE:  I somehow managed to write this whole diary without using the word "dirigible".  There, I feel better now.

Originally posted to m4gill4 on Fri Mar 13, 2009 at 08:27 PM PDT.

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