Another indicator that a rebirth of lighter-than-air (LTA) platforms is underway came on September 21 when a Navy blimp began a series of flights in vicinity of the nation's capital. Although it is currently the Navy's only blimp, the MZ-3A, "Advanced Airship Flying Laboratory", operated by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), is being used to evaluate LTA potential for a variety of missions. It was reportedly sent to the region to "map" several sensitive areas. With the ability to stay on station for extended periods of time while carrying a wide range of sensors, previous deployments of the MZ-3A have included response to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. More below:
(NRL News Release, September 20, 2013)
Comment: As previous noted on this blog, LTA platforms are being considered, or will be used, for several missions related to homeland security/defense and disaster response. Links to those stories are offered below:
- Aerostats to Defend Washington, DC
- A View From Above: Blimp Imagery for Disasters
- Is There a Surveillance Aerostat in Your Future?
Photo credit: US Navy