Feeds

Massive new US spy airship 'could be used to carry big cargoes'

Mighty Brit-designed vessel could swap height for grunt

A new approach to endpoint data protection

The huge LEMV* surveillance airships now being built by British designers for the US Army may be able to carry substantial cargoes as an alternative to sky-spy equipment, according to reports.

The LEMV airship to be built for the US Army. Credit: Northrop/HAV

Might not just be a spy-eye but a sky truck, too.

Aviation Week, in an update on the LEMV programme, quotes project chief Alan Metzger as saying that the vast airships are designed so that "mission and fuel modules can be removed and replaced with cargo modules".

In their standard configuration, the LEMV ships ("up to three" were ordered in June for $517m) would carry a 2,500lb payload of sensors and communications equipment on unmanned missions lasting up to 21 days. The 300-foot-long ships are "optionally manned" – they will be piloted where this is a legal requirement, as for example when transiting civil-controlled airspace, but for long surveillance missions they would normally be controlled from a ground station.

Swapping out the mission equipment would permit a LEMV to carry just 2,500lb of cargo to start with – not all that much. But three-week missions as standard indicates that the ships could spare a lot of fuel space for shorter flights of just a few days or less, suggesting that larger cargoes could be carried.

Then, an airship's lifting capacity decreases sharply as its maximum operating altitude increases. An airship's ceiling is set by its "pressure height" – the altitude at which its helium lifting gas has expanded to fill all available space inside the envelope. In order to have a higher pressure height, less gas must be put into the ship to start with, meaning that it will lift less stuff off the ground.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
Boffins spot weirder quantum capers as neutrons take the high road, spin takes the low
Cheshire cat effect see neutrons and their properties walk different paths
Asteroid's DINO KILLING SPREE just bad luck – boffins
Sauricide WASN'T inevitable, reckon scientists
Brit amateur payload set to complete full circle around PLANET EARTH
Ultralight solar radio tracker in glorious 25,000km almost-space odyssey
NASA Mars rover FINALLY equals 1973 Soviet benchmark
Yet to surpass ancient Greek one, however
Famous 'Dish' radio telescope to be emptied in budget crisis: CSIRO
Radio astronomy suffering to protect Square Kilometre Array
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?