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Lockheed remote security blimps { October 1 2003 }

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Pentagon plans 'defence blimps'
From correspondents in Cleveland
October 1, 2003

THE Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin Corp. a $US40 million ($58.8m) contract to develop a high-flying, remote-controlled blimp that would monitor U.S. borders and scan the horizon for enemy missiles.

The idea is to supplement radar and satellites. The helium-filled dirigibles - about 25 times larger than those seen at sporting events - could also be used to monitor combat zones overseas.

They would patrol at more than 28 kilometres up, and be powered by the sun.

"It's another mix in the multilayered defense sensors," Christopher Taylor, a spokesman for the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said. The goal is to have a prototype ready to fly in 2006. The contract includes a $50 million option to build one.

The agency will direct the design and construction of the prototype in Akron, Ohio, by Lockheed on behalf of the Department of Defense, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Army.

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