The Royal Navy Fleet May Buy 21st century British-Built Airships
The Royal Navy is considering the purchase of British-built airships, which can be used for surveillance and the resupply of Navy vessels.
A new generation of British-built airships may be bought by the Royal Navy to resupply ships, follwoing their use by the US Army on the front line in Afghanistan.
They can remain airborne for three weeks at a time while surveying the Taliban over a vast area, and can carry a 50-tonne load, which would enable them to transport urgent equipment parts out to ships.
The modern-day Zeppelins are to undergo testing in the United States.
Commanders are also considering using them for counter-piracy operations, because they can carry 150 commandos along with their boats.
Travelling at more than 90mph, the airship is almost three times faster than many vessels, and can go several days without refuelling.
With a mixture of 60 percent helium and 40 percent air, it is less vulnerable to enemy fire than the hydrogen-filled German Zeppelins in the First World War.
Tests have shown that bullets and even missiles can pass through the balloon without igniting the gas mixture.
The airships will cost £60 million each and can be flown remotely as an unmanned drone.
They could prove a major boon for the struggling British aircraft industry if they attract commercial interest. Oil companies are looking at LEMVs to carry heavy equipment to remote drilling stations without having to use an airfield.
They could also open up a more leisurely route across the Atlantic carrying 200 passengers in safety and comfort in a 36 hour journey consuming a fifth of the fuel used by a jet.
The airships could even be used to transport good within Britain. The company estimates the two hour road journey from Milton Keynes to the heart of London could be cut to 20 minutes
HAV secured a US defence contract for £315 million in 2010 to provide three airships that will take station over Afghanistan able to remain airborne for three weeks while surveying the Taliban over a vast area.
A MoD spokesman said: "The MoD recently received briefings on the possible use of airships and specifically Hybrid Air Vehicles for the movement of equipment and stores but there are currently no plans to buy such equipment.”
Source: By the British Forces News & The Telegraph News - 13 February 2012
Photo: Airship that can travel over 90mph could by used by Royal Navy (Photo by www.telegraph.co.uk)
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