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US Air Force enlists super blimp for Blue Devil surveillance initiative


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Way back in September 2009, we reported on an omnipotent war blimp from Lockheed Martin, now it looks like a similar dirigible could be hovering 20,000 feet above Afghanistan by this fall. (It's not clear whether or not the two blimps are one and the same, but Lockheed's craft was slated for an Afghan debut in 2011.) As part of the $211 million Blue Devil initiative, the US Air Force plans to pack the bloated beast -- which sports seven times the carrying capacity of the Goodyear blimp -- with up to a dozen interchangeable sensors and a supercomputer for processing data. It will then hover for stints as long as a week, collecting, assessing, and relaying important surveillance data to ground troops in a matter of seconds. It's a tall order, but Air Force officials hope that an on-board wide-area airborne surveillance system (WAAS), which uses 96 cameras to generate nearly 275TB of data every hour, and a supercomputer hosting the equivalent of 2,000 single-core servers will fit the bill. The aircraft isn't complete quite yet, but barring unforeseen obstacles, like a run-in with a giant needle, it should be up in the air starting October 15th. For more on Blue Devil check out our links below.

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