High-altitude airships for the future force Army

Lewis Jamison, Geoffrey Sommers, Isaac Porche

Research output: Book/ReportBook

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Across the services, there is an increasing demand for overhead communications capacity. New, lighter-than-air (LTA) vehicles that operate at very high altitudes have an obvious attraction for planners of surveillance and communication missions; the ability to see to a more distant horizon results in greatly expanded surveillance volumes. This report informs the U.S. Army about the usefulness and limitations of high-altitude airships (HAA) in the role of platforms for communications and surveillance suites in theater battlespace. Potential alternatives are solar-powered HAA and airplanes flying at 65,000 feet or above that can remain geostationary for months. Potentially, HAA may provide communications satellite capabilities for the WIN-T network that are less expensive than satellites and may support a Global Hawk-like surveillance package in the Multi-Sensor Command and Control Constellation (MC2C). HAA performance issues include engine power, envelope strength, and permeability, solar-cell power, fuel-cell capacity, weather, launch and recovery, and air defense survivability.
Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherRAND Corporation
Number of pages49
ISBN (Print)0833037595
StatePublished - 2005


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