Extrasensory Blimp Is Going To Be Deployed In Kandahar
Tracking the enemy location and operations from a clairvoyant distance of 20,000 feet is an advantage in itself. The possibility of this vision is about to become true in the form of a $211 million cash program called Blue Devil. It is supposed to be the size of seven Goodyear Blimps equipped with updated cameras, radars and listening devices.
In the past, U.S. planes have already performed tasks of preparing surveillance videos, but it is still a lengthy time-taking procedure. But Blue Devil will be integrated with sensors and a supercomputer which will provide the information to ground troops within 15 seconds. Retired Lt. Gen. David Deptula says that “It (the blimp) could change the nature of overhead surveillance.”
The first phase of the project is already on its way. Last year, four modified planes were shipped to Afghanistan comprising an array of surveillance gear. In the second phase, bigger and more complex ships will be introduced which will be built of TCOM LP – longer than a football field at 350 feet. One of the sources working on the project has concluded that “It’s freakishly large, one of the largest airships produced since World War II.”
The U.S. Air Force contends that its size would play a huge role in the war zone, as it can be fueled for a week’s time. It will be a significant technological flight as the previous lighter than air models flew just up to 3000 feet. Mav6 is working on the embedding work consisting of sensors connected through pallets of electronics.
The wide range of on-board listening devices includes: day/night video cameras, communications relays and receivers for ground sensors and wide area airborne surveillance system (WAAS). These sensors integrated with different cameras can film areas up to two-and-a-half miles around.
Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has calculated the requirement of 2,000 analysts to process the footage collected by a single drone fitted with WAAS sensors. The point here to be noted is that the next-generation WAAS will derive information from 96 cameras – that would generate 274 terabytes of information.
The supercomputer supporting the blimp is equivalent to 2,000 single-core servers that can process up to 300 terabytes per hour. Its processors will also crunch the information by adding meta tags of geographical location and time zone. So the task will be easier for ground troops as it will provide only that information in which they are interested. The first flight of Blue Devil is scheduled for October 15, 2011.