• EYE IN THE SKY: AIRSHIP SURVEILLANCE

      Sullivan, Arthur; Turner, William C.; Airship International, Ltd.; Electro-Magnetic Processes, Inc. (International Foundation for Telemetering, 1995-11)
      The first airship was invented and designed in 1852 by Henri Giffard, a French engineer. Airships were used by both the Allied and German military for surveillance and bomb dropping in WWI. There was a steady increase in airship use up until the Hindenburg exploded while docking in 1937 at Lakehurst, New Jersey. This tragedy almost ended the use of airships. Significant use of airships next occurred during WWII for submarine surveillance and depth charging. Airships for advertising, surveillance, and command control came of age in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Airships can be fitted with several telemetry options or instrumented with sensor systems for surveillance purposes. The telemetry or sensor data can be relayed, real-time, to a remote station as much as 150 km from the airship either encrypted or plain when cruising at 3000 feet altitude. Small vehicles (3 meters long) can be detected at 50 km using radar; 12 km using FLIRs; and, depending on weather conditions and real-time imaging processing, up to 20 km using video cameras. Cooperating airborne targets can be tracked out to 150 km. The major advantages of the airship over conventional aircraft are: • ENDURANCE Up to 20 hours without refueling. • LOW OPERATING COST Less than the cost of a helicopter. • SHOCK-FREE ENVIRONMENT Allows commercial electric equipment usage. • VIBRATION-FREE ENVIRONMENT Yields personnel comfort and endurance. • SAFETY Safer than any aircraft, automobile, or bicycle.