Feeds

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

Mighty Brit-designed vessel could swap height for grunt

Security for virtualized datacentres

Then there's the matter of ballast

Things aren't quite this simple with the LEMV, which gets extra lift from swivelling propulsion for takeoff and from air flowing over its surface while underway – it is a "hybrid" airship, not a true lighter-than-air vehicle.

Nonetheless, if its owners were happy to accept a lower ceiling than 20,000 feet, it would be possible to put more helium into the ship and so to carry more cargo. All in all, with fuel and sensors removed and extra gas added, the LEMV might be able to carry quite an impressive amount of stuff.

Needless to say, in Afghanistan it might not be that advisable to fly low – an LEMV would be a big target, and an enemy on the ground there is usually at quite high altitude himself. But an LEMV in unmanned mode would at least not be putting any aircrew at risk: and perhaps the added-gas option could be forgone for smaller cargoes.

One major snag would be that of offloading at any location unable to supply water or other suitable ballast to replace the cargo. A lighter-than-air ship unloading has to take on ballast weighing the same as the cargo lost, or vent off expensive helium: if she doesn't, she'll become uncontrollably buoyant, surge up through pressure height and lose gas anyway through automatic safety valves.

Things aren't quite as bad for the LEMV, which would set down in a heavy condition supported by engine thrust as well as gas. But offloading a big cargo would still probably call for taking on a lot of ballast, which might be hard to arrange at many Afghan bases.

All in all, the US Army probably won't be using its new airships for cargo operations – not in Afghanistan, anyway. But it's still an intriguing option, and the news that potentially-useful cargo ships will soon be flying is sure to delight airship fans. Reportedly, various branches of the US military have made enquiries about the LEMV's cargo-carrying potential.

Av Week, quoting Metzger, says that first manned flight is set for July next year. Unmanned long-endurance trials will follow, and the first ship is to deploy to Afghanistan at the end of next year. If the Army are pleased with it, more may be built. ®

*Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle

Remote control for virtualized desktops

More from The Register

next story
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
Ex-Soviet engines fingered after Antares ROCKET launch BLAST
Speculation rife, but Orbital claims it's too early to tell
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
NASA: Spacecraft crash site FOUND ON MOON RIM
'What fun!' exlaims NASA boffin who found the LADEE
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.