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Lockheed Martin Plans Unmanned Aircraft 322

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the release-the-drones dept.
Carl Bialik from the WSJ writes "Lockheed Martin's secretive Skunk Works unit--which previously developed U-2 spy plane, the SR-71 supersonic spy plane and the radar-evading F-117 stealth fighter--has big plans for its latest project: drones. Among the concepts under development, according to the Wall Street Journal: 'One drone would be launched from, and retrieved by, submarines; another would fly at nine times the speed of sound. A third, which is off the drawing board but not quite airborne, has wings designed to fold in flight so that it could rapidly turn from slow-speed spy plane to quick-strike bomber.' The WSJ's reporter also is allowed a rare visit to the Skunk Works complex: 'A factory hall was filled with the prototype of a massive helium-filled airship that one day might ferry troops and heavy equipment to distant battlefields faster and more efficiently than ships--no port or airbase needed. The blimp would float just above the ground on four hover pads, meaning that "you could literally pick a farmer's field" to set down in, says program manager Robert Boyd.'"
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Lockheed Martin Plans Unmanned Aircraft

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  • by omeomi (675045) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:08AM (#14659307) Homepage
    The blimp would float just above the ground on four hover pads, meaning that "you could literally pick a farmer's field" to set down in, says program manager Robert Boyd.'"

    At least until somebody shot at your gigantic air-filled target...
    • Aha! That's why we're going to use hydrogen! Literally *nothing* can go wrong.
    • by Billosaur (927319) * <.ten.enilnotpo. .ta. .rehtorgw.> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:32AM (#14659432) Journal
      At least until somebody shot at your gigantic air-filled target...

      Given that it would be helium-filled, not air-filled, even so you'd be hard-pressed to destroy an airship outright. Shooting through the fabric walls accomplishes nothing but putting holes in them, and given that your typical airship encompasses a tremendous volume with low pressure at near sea-level, the result would be a very slow deflation (unlike letting go of a party balloon and watching it zip around the room). Also, if it is semi-rigid, it would have an internal structure capable of maintaining integrity even if it lost lift. If they can pull it off, it might be a boon to the military. There's a tiny bit of extra information about it in Wikipedia [wikipedia.org].

      • by FTL (112112) <{slashdot} {at} {neil.fraser.name}> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:04AM (#14659678) Homepage
        "Shooting through the fabric walls accomplishes nothing but putting holes in them, ..."

        This was conclusively demonstrated a couple of years ago when a helium-filled weather balloon floated out of control into the air traffic lanes over the Atlantic. The Royal Canadian Air Force sent up a couple of CF-18 fighters to shoot it down. They emptied more than 1,000 rounds of cannon shells into it and there was absolutely no effect. The Canadian "Air Farce" were the laughing stock of the world for a while. Eventually the balloon drifted across the Atlantic, where the British air force went up and showed how it was supposed to be done. They had no effect on the balloon either.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/161148.s tm [bbc.co.uk]

        • Semantic problem. The two comments about 1,000 rounds don't scan.

          The commander's comment tells the story. "Very hard to hit."

          They probably didn't hit it with more than a couple of those rounds.

          If they'd strafed it with 50-mm cannon fire, they'd have shredded a stripe across it, and it would have outgassed and plummeted.
      • Well, if they took potshots at you with a bazooka (well, RPG-7) and not a peashooter, you'd be unhappier than you describe.
      • materials for the space elevator (AS YET UNMADE) are designed to withstand incredible stress..

        what if you made your blimp out of the same material, in rigid form, and had an empty blimp.

        pop quiz, what lifts better, helium, hydrogen, or vaccuum?

        • pop quiz, what lifts better, helium, hydrogen, or vaccuum?

          Anti-gravity.

          Obviously a vacuum would give more lift, but the stresses it exerts on the frame are incredible, requiring a much more massive structure, increasing the weight above any benefit it would provide, so it's not practical.

          Hydrogen lifts better than helium, and doesn't have the problem a vacuum poses, but it's flamable, and difficult to contain, and so also impractical.
        • materials for the space elevator (AS YET UNMADE) are designed to withstand incredible stress..

          what if you made your blimp out of the same material, in rigid form, and had an empty blimp.

          Space elevator materials are made to support tremendous load in tension. (Think about the behaviour of a steel cable, for example.) The load on a vacuum vessel would be compressive. You'd be trying to push a rope.

          The density of air is about 1.29 kilograms per cubic meter at sea level; the density of helium is about

      • Modern helium-filled airships employ multiple gas chambers. You would need to shoot holes in a large number of them to make a dent in it's air-worthiness.

        Also, each shot the enemy fires lights them up on the (likely) acompanying Apache strike team's computer-guided weapon systems. An enemy shooter would only manage to get off a couple of good shots before they were disintegrated.

    • by hey! (33014)
      I suppose to early twentieth century naval planners, aircraft carriers would seem ridiculously vulnerable. Where are the guns? Where is the armor plating? The answer is nobody is allowed to get near enough the carrier for those things to make a difference.

      Also, you have to look at things relatively speaking. A lighter than air ship may be large and slow, but to technology that exists today, large heavier than air transports are probably large and slow enough. A lighter than air ship may have a more fr
    • In 1958, two engineers at Cambridge designed large rubberized boats, called dracones, to carry fluids in water. By making these multisectioned, they can actually be quite tough. This design has been used in many parts of the globe for decades. If the fabric cover is damged, only the contents of one section can be lost. Inflatable life rafts use the same principle. I would assume that a helium filled airship would use this principle as well. It will not be designed like a ballon so that failure will 'p
  • UAV (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jimbolauski (882977)
    For quite some time UAV have been considered the future of the air force. They are smaller and therefore harder to detect on radar, cheaper to maintain per hour of flight baring crashes, the only thing they can't do right now is carry large payloads and transport vehicles (soon to change). I see very little need for pilots in the future except to fight the UAV that decides to attack us but missiles should get that job done.
    • There are several companies working on UAV's. Some of the more interesting are the "ultra-light UAV's, ones that can fit in the palm of ones hand. The Marines were very interested in a concept of one that weighed about a pound, could carry a color camera, range of about 200-300 yards, and entire system was man-portable. When your in the middle of Urban combat, having something able to look around the corner, or over the roof into the next block is WAY more useful than something flying 9 times the speed o
      • Erm, I'm as much a fan of General Atomics as the next guy (cool name, IMO), but I'm not sure that they're either "little," nor are they "thumbing [their] nose" at anyone.

        There are three Air Force squadrons of their products (the Predators), and I'm pretty sure the USAF didn't just buy them over the phone with an Amex card. I of course can't say for sure, but it seems like they probably went through the same acquisition channels as everyone else.

        Care to clarify your point? Maybe I'm misunderstanding. I think
    • Re:UAV (Score:3, Funny)

      by FlopEJoe (784551)
      "UAV have been considered the future of the air force"

      Noooo!!!! Didn't you see "Stealth" where the plane goes rogue and starts killing everyone??? No? Me either.

    • I see very little need for pilots in the future except to fight the UAV that decides to attack us but missiles should get that job done.

      I do. A UAV is really nothing more than a smart delivery system. A bit like a missile, except that it doesn't blow itself up when it gets there. (Though that is always an option.) While the idea of hypersonic delivery systems is nice, you can't drop a bomb at hypersonic velocities. You've got to go subsonic and let loose the payload if you want any chance of hitting your ta
      • "you can't drop a bomb at hypersonic velocities"

        Von Baun proved that you could, more than 60 years ago.
        • Von Baun proved that you could, more than 60 years ago.

          What in the world are you talking about?
      • Re:UAV (Score:3, Informative)

        by jimbolauski (882977)
        You must be a pilot, dogfights happen in air shows and bad 80's movies, not in real combat anymore. With missles shooting down enemy planes before they are visible to the naked eye dogfighting is a term of the past. UAVs have a much lower probability of being discovered using the same radar foiling technology but being much smaller means a smaller RCS so the UAV will not be detected and could imobolize the enemy's air fields and not have to wory about air to air combat. The bigest threats to the american
        • That is the kind of thinking that produced the F-4 Phantom back in 1959, when weapons designers were sure that the era of dogfighting was over. They built a big missile platform, which during the initial phases of the Vietnam war, could barely hold its own against the smaller, more agile Russian MiG-17s which carried only guns. While the Phantom pilots were searching the skies with radar, the little MiGs were sneaking up behind them and blowing them away. Missiles are never 100% effective, which is why the
      • Re:UAV (Score:2, Insightful)

        Are you sure you want to keep two F-16's airborne, pay the gasoline bill, and the two guys from Texas, who will get bored, and will start fireing 100,000$ AMRAAM's to protect 400,000$ UAVs?
      • Re:UAV (Score:3, Informative)

        by Kadin2048 (468275)
        You've got to go subsonic and let loose the payload if you want any chance of hitting your target.

        I'm not sure that I buy this claim.

        If the bomb was guided, as many of them tend to be, and had a system for decreasing its own velocity (i.e., is a somewhat unfortunately-named 'retarded bomb'), then it could be released from the aircraft at a very high speed, change its flight characteristics so as to shed airspeed, and then guide itself to its target.

        I know I'm minimizing what would have to be a very complica
      • Re:UAV (Score:5, Interesting)

        by fitten (521191) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:59AM (#14660105)
        While a pilot's brain is one of the most valuable things in a combat aircraft, the pilot's body is one of the weakest links in the system. Fighters have long been designed (and limited in some cases) to perform within tolerances of what a human can withstand (9G limits and such). Also, various systems such as ejection seats and armor have to be included to protect the pilot. With a UAV, those issues go away. We can design UAVs which have performance envelopes that no human would survive. I agree with the problems about transmission of control signals and the like, but if you can guarantee communications, a UAV should be able to take out an aircraft with a pilot inside it in a dogfight relatively easy just because of maneuverability, not that dogfights would happen that often.

        I agree with others in that the most versitile combat UAVs will just be a loitering platform for firing missiles and dropping LGBs. You can have some armed with a bunch of AAMs to protect the ones with the air-to-ground ordnance, as well as have some with both types of ordnance.
    • More likely it will be used a platform for lasers to slice and dice.
    • by mi (197448)

      I see very little need for pilots in the future except

      Pilots will be flying these things -- from far away, of course. Not neccessarily from bases on the mainland US -- the speed of light is not infinite, and latency will impact the effectivness of control. But from an airbase, a carrier, or even a submarine close to the action, but not in it? Yes...

      Not only will it improve the pilots' safety a lot, and make the aircraft cheaper. Not having to worry about the limitations of the human body will also allow

    • For quite some time UAV have been considered the future of the air force. They are smaller and therefore harder to detect on radar, cheaper to maintain per hour of flight baring crashes

      That isn't the main reasons that air force would want a UAV. Stealth is not a function of size. The B2 bomber is huge but is harder to detect than a WWI biplane. One of the main reasons for a UAV is the human pilot is becoming a limiting factor in missions. Current UAVs like the Predator can hover over a target for 20 h

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I hope it's more successful than their last drone, the D-21 Tagboard [wikipedia.org]
  • by us7892 (655683) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:19AM (#14659362) Homepage
    So, they do not want to compete with the expensive Global Hawk http://www.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=17 5/ [af.mil] made by Northrop Grumman. Instead, their interested in the cheap Notebook controlled Desert Hawk http://www.defense-update.com/products/d/deserthaw k.htm/ [defense-update.com] models deployed in Iraq. They are pretty cool. Designed and delivered in 4 months.

    Seems like a good idea. However, if these were deployed in other arenas, where the enemy had the ability Jam the "cheap" communication, those drones would be...well...long gone. How do military communication systems handle jamming?
  • by ianscot (591483) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:19AM (#14659365)
    Nice popular memoir set in the Skunk Works:

    Skunk Works [amazon.com].

    This is a group that developed the first operational jet fighters, and that kept the U-2 and SR-71 and stealth planes out of the public eye forever. We think the Wall Street Journal is getting the real story from them? If it's true, you have to wonder why the massive cultural shift at Lockheed is happening just now...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:32AM (#14659434)
      Sheesh, you Americans - you make me smile. Stuff happens outside the US too. From Wikipedia:

      The Messerschmitt Me 262 [wikipedia.org] Schwalbe or "swallow" was the first operational jet powered fighter. It was mass-produced in World War II and saw action from late 1944 in bomber/reconnaissance and fighter/interceptor roles....etc...
      • > Stuff happens outside the US too.

        Of course! We learned all about it in school. There's World War II, stinky cheeses, Godzilla, and The French.

        We didn't miss anything, did we?
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @11:52AM (#14660481)
        Sheesh, you Americans - you make me smile. Stuff happens outside the US too.

        Oh, sure. Next, you'll be telling us that the Americans didn't crack the German Enigma code (as per the film "U-571"), and that instead the code was cracked by a rag-tag collection of scientists, linguists and crossword-puzzle addicts at Bletchley Park in England. http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/ [bletchleypark.org.uk]

        The Americans do everything first. Everyone knows that (particularly the Americans).
    • by kahei (466208) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:36AM (#14659459) Homepage

      This is a group that developed the first operational jet fighters

      Lockheed made planes for Hitler???

    • The entire secrecy campaign with the F-117A was a political game. Democratic President Carter discloses stealth aircraft and everyone gets into a tizzy about compromised national security. Republican President Reagan then secretizes everything. No one knows what the aircraft looks like. Predictions were that it would look really slick and smooth like the F-22 eventually looked like, not at all close to the boxy, jagged airframe the F-117A actually had. Test aircraft and crew were lost because they had to te
  • by RootsLINUX (854452) <rootslinux.gmail@com> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:22AM (#14659376) Homepage
    I've already seen these things in action in Command and Conquer Generals. Can't they come up with some original designs for tools of war anymore instead of just copying them from video games? Sheesh.

    (Yes, I'm being sarcastic)
  • Ben Rich's book "Skunk Works" details a supersonic, stealth recon drone which was operational in the seventies before the F117 was created. The article, unfortunately, doesn't mention this and makes it sound as though unmanned craft are a new thing for these guys.
    • And the Pentagon has just issued plans to retire the F-117 in FY2008, in favour of more F-22s. The drone mentioned in that book is probably the D-21 drone, launched from the back of the SR-71 aircraft at altitude. It pretty much failed.
  • Having just watched "Sky Captain and the World of Tomarrow" yesterday, hearing these announcements is a big freaky.
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:32AM (#14659430)
    faster and more efficiently than ships--no port or airbase needed. The blimp would float just above the ground on four hover pads

    Now our plan for world domination shall be COMPLETE!

    Muah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
  • by macklin01 (760841) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:37AM (#14659475) Homepage

    I recently read in the LA Times about a small company that's competing with LM on the blimps.

    Apparently, Worldwide Aeros, [aerosml.com] a smallish company founded by a Russian immigrant, was one of two U.S. companies that was awarded $3 million (USD) by the Pentagon to research the concept. (The other was LM.)

    Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian had been working on a project to develop mammoth airships to deliver supplies to Siberian oilfields.

    You can find the article here [latimes.com]. -- Paul

  • I, for one, cannot wait for the Kirov Airship [wikipedia.org] to be developed. I wonder if that's the 'massive helium-filled airship' the article mentions... Of course, Lockheed Martin isn't bound by international treaty *not* to build bombers, so I guess they could build something like an Apocalypse Tank while they're waiting for demand to rise... after all, who *doesn't* want a tank with auto-reconstruction, missiles, dual cannons, and thick armor?
    • Capture their barracks and build a load of flak troopers. Cheap, and able to kill the kirov quite easily as long as you keep retreating out of its range.
  • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@gmailSLACKWARE.com minus distro> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:41AM (#14659501)
    ...Is that they make it easier to go to war. None of those politically inconvenient body bags to bring home.


  • At this time technology isn't the problem. Question is, what will happen first?

    - Errant political leaders misuse technology?

    - Politically disgruntled scientist develops AI to run Terminators?
  • I am.
  • Ahhhh! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mwace (923798)
    For an young guy passionate about flight and aspiring to become a fighter pilot, this is a nightmare come true!
    • For an young guy passionate about flight and aspiring to become a fighter pilot, this is a nightmare come true!

      It's tough, isn't it? I'd suggest you find a different career path, to be honest; perhaps you might try steel driving [ibiblio.org]?

  • Pics (Score:2, Funny)

    by Lord_Slepnir (585350)
    Prototype pics here [sextondesign.net]

    The best part is, when one is destroyed, it's consciousness is downloaded into another unit, saving on re-training time. Though it might get bitter about being destroyed over and over...

  • by anzha (138288) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:51AM (#14659569) Homepage Journal

    Aviation Week [aviationnow.com] has already covered the fact that the airship has already flown. It looks like Lockheed is in exploration mode for aircraft right now because the traditional market of milking the government teet for manned fighter and bomber contracts has a decidedly less than glorious future.

  • by sammy baby (14909) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @09:55AM (#14659596) Journal
    Signs you've been watching to much Chappelle's Show, #125

    In a Slashdot discussion, you read the phrase

    Lockheed Martin's secretive Skunk Works unit... has big plans for its latest project:
    ...and you subconsciously complete the sentence:
    Mars, bitches.
  • Such technologies will have a big effect on the future look of the army but let's not forget the record of drones isn't great. Sure they can be modified to carry missiles and destroy targets but they still rely on human intelligence. Is it any more acceptable if a drone kills the wrong person or if a human does it?

    Longer term though this is a worrying trend. If we build future armies on this technology while not retaining key skills a single EMP blast from an orbital bomb could cripple an entire army. I u
    • I understand F18's and beyond can't fly safely without fly-by-wire, this system would be even worse.

      How would this system be worse? In an F-18, you've strapped a human being into a vunerable system, which could potentially be disabled and result in their death.

      With a UAV, if the system is disabled, the UAV craters, and some guy in a bunker at Nellis AFB has to do a lot of paperwork.

      I prefer the latter situation. Planes are not going to become less complex -- fly by wire is here to stay; UAVs just make the
    • EMP isn't all its cracked up to be.

      All military hardware is at least partially EM shielded (or hardened)
      Actual combat vehicles have greater protection and also alot of redundant systems.

      The big deal with an EMP is that it creates a massive voltage surge in any conductive material. Voltage limiting gear can help greatly, as well as the ability to work around blown components with backup systems. Encasing the entire electrical system in a Faraday Cage also helps by setting up counter EM fields to reduce the
    • The F-16 was the first front line military aircraft to be inherently unstable and unable to fly without its avionics. From the FAS web site: [fas.org]

      NEGATIVE STABILITY. All previous aircraft designs had been aerodynamically stable. That is, the center of gravity was well in front of the center of lift and the center of pressure (drag).

      To illustrate the difference between stable and unstable designs, take a shirt cardboard and, holding it by the leading edge, pull it rapidly through the air. It will stretch out b

  • by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:04AM (#14659674) Homepage
    I think it's interesting that it would likely be possible to develop an auto-pilot aircraft before we have self-driving cars. That would be a neat X-Prize like contest. Develop an aircraft that a human passenger could program with a destination and the plane delivers them without human assistance. It would need ground monitoring and some way for the human to take over in an emergency, but I bet that could come together faster than autodrive cars.

    One of the first UAV experiments was the Snark. So many crashed into the waters off the test facility that they were called Snark Infested Waters. We've come a long way since then.

    • One of the first UAV experiments was the Snark. So many crashed into the waters off the test facility that they were called Snark Infested Waters. We've come a long way since then.

      Yeah. This one's a Boojum.

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:06AM (#14659700) Homepage
    A welcome progress...
  • Lockheed never publically acknowledges current Skunk projects. They only talk about stuff that is 10-15 years OLD, only AFTER it has been replaced by something far better or more advanced.

    That means whatever was revealed is ancient history and absolutely NOT the state of the art.

    It may also be a pile of red herrings designed to delude competitors or enemies, such as a series of expensive dead-end projects they WANT the bad guys to worry about, while the real toys continue to remain hidden.

    Have a crapload o
    • Hauling troops anywhere quickly is what they said the V-22 was for

      No they didn't. That's what the C-17 is for. The V-22 was intended to move troops short hops around the battlefield with the speed of an airplane, but the agility of a helicopter.

      Our military would never settle for a slow blimp, unless it's got anti-grav or some exotic weapon.

      The purpose of a military airship is for heavy lift long distance transport. Currently, if they want to move a large number of M-1A1 tanks, they roll them onto car

  • by squoozer (730327)

    "you could literally pick a farmer's field"

    I'm fairly sure that the farmer would have something to say about that and knowing farmers it is likely he would innitially try saying it by shooting their fancy pants balloon full of holes. Still it would be fun to watch million of pounds worth of balloon shrivel up because of some old farmer with a shot gun.

  • I mean really, how long before these babies go autonomous.

    All it'll take is a lightning strike and goodbye humanity. I mean, Stanford's little Touareg managed to navigate all by its little lonesome self. And we all now that technology shrinks in size within a very short time span.

    I shudder to think about it this way, but it is where we're going.
    • I mean really, how long before these babies go autonomous. All it'll take is a lightning strike and goodbye humanity.

      Surely you're not serious. Do you really get your science education from bad movies? Lightning would do one of two things, even to a mythical sentient machine: A) nothing, or B) break it. Believing that lightning can turn an simple autonomous robot into some crazed, scheming killing machine is as asinine as believing you can repair an aneurysm with a sledgehammer.

  • by MrSteveSD (801820) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:22AM (#14659811)
    Military automation is a worrying trend. Eventually it could reach the stage where there are very few soldiers actually involved in combat. That would make it much easier for governments to prosecute wars. Consider Iraq. All the concern has been over how many US troops have died and how politically damaging it is. There is little concern for all the Iraqis killed in air strikes. If you can automate the military, you remove most of the political repercussions of war. No US Soldiers dead, just lots of automated robots killing people in another country, who no-one cares about. It would also make it much easier for governments to turn the military against their own people.
    • Or, from another perspective, maybe these medieval asshats will be less likely to think that they'll get away with attacking America if they know that even a Democratic Party president will see to it that the military pays them a proper visit, such as after the WTC was first bombed in 1993.

      I do think kickstarting democracy in Iraq and hoping that Iraq's example is enough to put the Iranian political dissidents over the top and bring down their dictatorship, followed by the rest of the region, is our best ch
  • Blimp Requirements (Score:3, Informative)

    by AtomicSnarl (549626) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @10:39AM (#14659946) Homepage
    Ok... some quick and dirty math here -- sea level conditions assumed on a normal (15C) day:

    Air weighs about 1 Kg per cubic yard (no whining about mixed units, please)
    O2/N2/H20 21/78/1% mix works out to 12.29 atomic weight vs He weight of 2, so...
    He weighs only about 20% of air, so it can lift 80% of the air it displaces.

    Given the above:
    An equipped company of 100 soldiers is about 100kg/220lbs each -- total: 10 tonnes
    This would require a minimum of 125000 cubic yards of He to lift by itself, and much more for the vehicle empty weight, fuel, etc.

    For comparison, an LTA 138S Airship [us-lta.com] is 160 feet/50 meters long, volume of 138,000 ft3 (3,908 m3) (5100 yd3), and lifts only 1.5 tonnes.

    Scaling up from the LTA 138S, you'd need 25 times the volume - 3.5 million ft3 minimum. Not impossible, but consider the design for the CargoLifter [bbc.co.uk] which would be 850ft/260m long with payload of 160 tonnes for 17.6 million ft3/ 500,000 m3 of Helium.

    What ever it would be, navigating a floating object the size of an WW II Jeep Carrier or Cruiser into and out of cornfields would not be simple in any sort of wind.
    • by agingell (931397)
      You are correct in your main assumptions apart from the fact that this particular design is not designed for VTOL.

      It gains approx 20% of its lift from its aerodynamic form, which obviously requires it to have forward velocity to "fly". This results in quite a large saving in volume of lifting gas.

      The lifting gas issue is actually one of the biggest problems with theses airships as it is all fine when you have the load on, but what do you do when you have unloaded. You suddenly have an enormous mass requirem
  • on this crap shows clearly the sickness of this society. No perspective whatsoever.

    Ouh Ouh - I got the bigger club

    Eheheheh - I get you anyway

    Both loose!

    Who is working on this shit anyway? Must be humans - right? Hmh...

  • by sboyko (537649) on Tuesday February 07, 2006 @11:12AM (#14660195) Homepage
    A separate long-term Pentagon blueprint calls for a quantum leap in drones, from hand-launched planes for battlefield surveillance

    My son and I were involved in the construction of some of those recently. They were manufactured from sheets of cellulose fiber, carefully bent into the best aerodynamic shapes and flown in our indoor testing ground.

    We're still working on the surveillance part but the hand-launching went well. Many made it all the way across the house.

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