ELIZABETH CITY, NORTH CAROLINA — Down the road from the Coast Guard air station, past the copse of oak trees, surrounded by fields of leafy collard greens, in a 1,000-foot-long steel hangar built during World War II here in coastal North Carolina, the unlikely dream of an upstart military contractor is about to be literally deflated. In the hangar’s musty gloom, underneath rafters where countless birds perch and spatter the concrete floor 200 feet below with their waste, a 370-foot-long, ultra-high-tech surveillance airship floats just a foot off the ground, tethered to Earth by three metal cables each weighing three tons.
Archived posts with tag ‘Mav6’
The latest pissed-off reader takes exception to my coverage of the Blue Devil 2 “missile blimp” — and also finds my “pen name” to be “cute.” He also helpfully sent me a link to a marketing brochure detailing Blue Devil’s weapons capability, failing to notice that I’m the one who uploaded that document in the first place.
Upstart Virginia aerospace firm Mav6 is offering to install guided missiles on the massive, robotic spy blimp it’s building for the Air Force. The idea would only be slightly terrifying, if the massive airship was headed to Afghanistan, as originally planned. But Mav6 and its CEO, a respected retired Air Force general, are also promoting the giant airship for homeland security missions over U.S. soil. In that way, today’s war blimp could become tomorrow’s all-seeing, lethal Big Brother.
The past decade has seen an unlikely revival of a long-grounded technology. Military airships, last operational with the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, took back to the skies, propelled by soaring demand for long-endurance, low-cost aerial surveillance in Iraq and Afghanistan. Per flight hour, an airship costs a fraction of what a helicopter or a fixed-wing plane costs.