Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Send in the Blimps!

If there has been, in the whole span of human history, a more useless invention than the non-rigid airship, then your own BigCityLib has not heard of it. Half the ones ever built caught fire and burned, or blew away and crashed into the ocean. In fact they've never been employed successfully as anything but flying billboards at sporting events.

So of course its entirely natural that America's military should turn to the hapless BLIMP in its attempts to master the Iraq Insurgency. As reported in the World Tribune:

..the army has been briefed on the use of airships equipped with sensors that could provide continuous surveillance over insurgency strongholds in Iraq. The airships would ensure real-time information on insurgency threats to army commands and ease the burden on the Army's unmanned aerial vehicle fleet.

Though doomed to failure (because, historically, every scheme involving a Blimp has been doomed to failure), the sums involved are truly eye-popping:

In September 2006, the Pentagon would determine which...[company]... would be awarded a $100 million contract. In the first stage of the project, the winner would build a 900-foot airship prototype. At a later stage, the U.S. military could order a fleet of the blimps in what could cost up to $11 billion.

Deeply involved in the effort are the folks at Blackwater USA, a company previously known for supplying thousands of security guards and bodyguards for the State Department in Afghanistan and Iraq (they're Mercs, in other words). Designing and building Blimps is an entirely new game for Blackwater USA, but they're willing to give it a go, as the choice for them right now is between making their guys something that will float them a thousand feet above the battlefield, or having them get their balls blown off in IED attacks.

And of course military contracts are like a license to overspend, forever.

A Symbol of America in Iraq?

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