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Lockheed Martin To Develop High Altitude Airship for Missile Defense

file photo of LMCO airship concept
  • The prototype airship will be about 500 feet long, 160 feet in diameter and have a volume of 5.2 million cubic feet, about 25 times larger than the blimps seen at athletic events.
  • Akron - Sep 30, 2003
    The Missile Defense Agency today awarded Lockheed Martin a $40 million design and risk reduction contract as the next phase of the advanced technology concept demonstration to deliver a high altitude airship (HAA) prototype in 2006.

    The prototype airship will be about 500 feet long, 160 feet in diameter and have a volume of 5.2 million cubic feet, about 25 times larger than the blimps seen at athletic events.

    "We share the Missile Defense Agency's vision for the high altitude airship and the many roles it can serve over our domestic borders and distant theaters of operation," said Al Barber, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors' (MS2) facilities in Akron.

    "Its long time on station and ability to carry different payloads will provide multimission capabilities not possible with other assets. When launched, the HAA will commence a new era in flight."

    Lockheed Martin previously received one of three $2 million Missile Defense Agency contracts for HAA preliminary concept work. The Missile Defense Agency's performance goals for the prototype HAA that Lockheed Martin will develop include sustained operations for one month at 65,000 feet while providing 10 kilowatts of power to a 4,000-pound payload. Additionally, the HAA prototype will demonstrate station-keeping and autonomous flight control capabilities.

    Work will be performed at Lockheed Martin's facilities in Akron. Its existing airship factory, called the Airdock, is 1,175 feet long, 325 feet wide and 211 feet high.

    Lockheed Martin assembled a team of industry leaders in autonomous control systems, regenerative power systems, envelope material and systems integration to develop its HAA solution. Team members include Lockheed Martin business units in California, Colorado, Maryland and Virginia, and StratCom International LLC, Keedysville, MD.

    The City of Akron, Summit County Port Authority and the State of Ohio added letters of support to the winning proposal, identifying economic development considerations and infrastructure improvements at the Akron-Fulton Municipal Airport.

    "Akron, Summit County and Ohio have embraced this opportunity, which will strengthen the city's economic base and build upon the region's identification as the leader in lighter-than-air and polymer technology creation," said Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic.

    "The City of Akron, Summit County Port Authority, and the state of Ohio are important collaborators on the High Altitude Airship program," Barber said. "The improvements this public-private consortium has outlined for the airport's infrastructure and the potential economic development considerations are as important to a successful takeoff of the airship as are the technological advancements our industrial team will make."

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    Alliant Techsystems (ATK) has successfully tested a high-performance Advanced Solid Axial Stage (ASAS) 32-inch-diameter solid rocket motor demonstrating critical technologies required for future missile defense, as well as strategic and tactical mission applications.

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