LOCKHEED MARTIN PLANS TO BUILD a 400 ft.-long airship prototype that could provide the primary platform for ballistic and cruise missile defenses for the U.S. or a foreign battlefield.

Lockheed Martin Airship

This initial version of the High Altitude Airship (HAA) is to carry a 500-lb. payload to 60,000 ft. at 22 kt. airspeed and then maintain a “quasi-geostationary” position for a month, says Mike Baumgartner, the project’s program manager. A basic power output of 3.5 kw. is to be provided by photovoltaic cell technology. The four 25-ft.-dia. propellers and electric motors also will be used to help the 140-ft.-dia., 3.7- million-cu.-ft. air-ship station keep its station, even in windy conditions, during a 30-day flight. A 3-ft.-dia. payload compartment can be expanded in 5-ft. increments. The airship’s skin is to be constructed of a high-strength, lightweight laminate, he says. The air-ship will not have a rigid framework.

An operational version of the airship is being designed for a standard 180-day mis-sion. Company officials won’t discuss details of the power supply, payloads or speed. Its altitude is to be 65,000 ft. or more, and a power supply of some “10s of kw.” will drive a combination of radar, infrared and electro-optical sensors that could be fitted into an expandable payload bay or attached to the airship’s exterior. Both Raytheon and Northrop Grumman are developing radar arrays that involve attaching a field of small transmitter/receiver modules to the exterior of large structures and compensating for their positioninu with software.

Design and first flight of the prototype HAA will be conducted under a $149.2 -million contract from the U.S. Missile Defense Agency at Lockheed Martin’s Akron (Ohio) Airdock historical facility which was built in 1929. The prototype is to fly in 2009, and there are options to extend the test program through 2010-11, Baumgartner says.



December 19/26 2005. (Pg. 12)


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