Pentagone plans to deploy giant spy blimp for monitoring data communication in Afghanistan.
According to an article published by the online magazine Wired this fall, the Pentagon plans to deploy a “giant spy blimp” floating 20,000 feet above the ground that will house a supercomputer capable of monitoring the flow of all data and communication for miles around. While not yet a done deal, the airship, said to be seven times the size of the Goodyear Blimp, is the result of a $211 million program called “Blue Devil.”
Giant spy blimp for monitoring data communications
The Air Force reportedly has yet to decide on the precise payload of the floating brain. The options are limited by the volume of data that would be collected and stored in the onboard computers.
Such surveillance is already conducted by a squadron of various planes and other flying machines; however, the idea is that this one craft, Blue Devil, will coordinate and consolidate those mission-critical activities into one enormous central control unit.
The computer brain that crunches the data collected by Blue Devil will then be parceled out to the appropriate data-gathering device: camera, microphone, remote listening apparatus, etc. and more precisely direct each where to train its electronic eyes. This crucial data, once sifted and sorted, will be sent to human intelligence agents (ground troops, for example) in as little as 15 seconds. Well, that is the goal.
“It could change the nature of overhead surveillance,” says Lt. General David A. Deptula, former Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.
In 2009, the initial build-up to Blue Devil began with the shipment of four modified executive airplanes to Afghanistan, each equipped with an impressive battery of surveillance equipment.
The construction of the blimp itself will be the next phase of the Blue Devil project. Reports indicate that the ship will be lighter than traditional aircraft and will be longer than a football field, seven times the size of the Goodyear Blimp at 1.4 million cubic feet.
The Air Force is hopeful that the enormity of the airship (referred to on some websites as the MAV6) will provide for enough fuel and helium to keep the thing aloft for as long as a week at a time and at almost four miles in altitude.