Blackwater blimps and beyond
Coming to a neighbourhood near you.
It looks like Blackwater has already found a use to which they are shoveling those hefty profits: building their own airships, among other things, that will then be leased back to the DoD, the DHS and "other government agencies," no doubt at exorbitant rates.
Blackwater Airships LLC was established in January 2006 as the newest Blackwater venture -- with a mission to build a remotely piloted airship vehicle (RPAV). Although seemingly different from the traditional Blackwater mission, this new venture to provide a persistent surveillance capability is fully consistent with the Blackwater goal of offering solutions which help to protect our forces wherever they are deployed and support our homeland security.Joe Rathbun's entire article is worth reading. Check it out.
The Blackwater Airships team completed design work at the end of 2006 and is now building the Polar 400 airship. This highly capable RPAV will provide a platform ready to accomodate a wide variety of state-of-the-art surveillance, communications and detection equipment that can record and store events and downlink them in real-time to ground operators. The make-up of the mission payload of up to 400 lbs will be determined by customer requirements -- whether for combat areas, port or border security, or coastal patrol.
The prototype Polar 400 is completing propulsion ground tests and when fully assembled will undergo test flights and then move into production by mid-year 2007. Following successful demonstration flights, Blackwater Airships will begin selling or leasing airships to Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security and other government customers. The Polar 400 is designed to operate for 48 to 60 hours at altitudes from 5,000 to 15,000 feet. The unique design of the RPAV propulsion system will give it the capability to loiter over a desired location with excellent low-speed maneuverability, along with an ability to fly at up to 50 knots to move quickly to and from a target area.
[via Covert History]