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back to article Robo spy-zeppelin prototype in test flight

An American firm has carried out flight tests of a prototype robotic spy dirigible, intended ultimately to lurk high in the skies for days carrying surveillance gear. Needless to say, a vid was posted to YouTube in short order: (Please check that you have Flash and your firewall is YouTube-friendly before commenting to the …

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The north wind shall blow ...

This seems to suffers from precisely the same problem as all those bright "let's deliver data from a hovering blimp" ideas. At 15,000 feet, 60kt is a pretty small wind. Twice that isn't uncommon. So while these things might be able to hang around for a couple of days in settled fine weather, they are going to end up in Albuquerque (data) or Iran (spying) every time the wind starts blowing.

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Anonymous Coward

Stealthy Spy Blimp

The steering control is neat, operating without rudder or elevators, however for spying or "covert operations" as we spooks like to call it, we would prefer something a little less obvious especially if it is going to hover over enemy installations for long periods of time. Does the price include as standard a "cloaking device" to render the dirigible invisible?

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Happy

That sub-title is genius.

All hail Igglepiggle.

(My excuse: a two-year-old son. Honest)

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Happy

Thanks

*Those who lack small kids or an early-evening cannabis habit - and hence don't watch In The Night Garden - may not be familiar with the Pinky-Ponk."

Not having any small kids available some of us never knew about the prog. From the same folks that brought us Pob - now there was a character who appeared to have been at the bong before transmission.

Extra Rizlas now on shopping list.

A big smiley E

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Coat

All we need now is a robotic Iggle Piggle

< those of you without kids can ignore this>

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Black Helicopters

is it available...

...in black?

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Pirate

Anti Aircraft Weapon?

Ok so now any kid with a BB gun will possess a "counter surveillance, anti aircraft weapon"

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IT Angle

Pinky Ponk

My daughter renamed it the 'Stinky Stonk' simply because of the noises it makes.

And what's with Macca Pakka and his OCD???

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Dead Vulture

At least it would be clean

What with Makka Pakka's OCD for washing things.

/dead bird cozs the Tittifers get right in mine.

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Linux

Beautiful @David S

Exactly the same thing that I thought of with the title. Had to read the story as the title drew me in.

On to a more serious note does anyone actually think this is going to be used for spying on enemies of the state, such as forgein territories, or for spying on the enemies of the gov't, such as citizens of London.

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RE:Stealthy Spy Blimp

No problem. Just paint it to look like a cloud. Then, when the terror-cell is taking a break, Al looks up and...

"Hey Mo! That cloud looks like a cigar with tail fins!"

"Nah. It's a giant penis with tail fins."

"How would you know what a giant..." etc. with a general round of all-boys-together laughter from this zany crew.

And while this is going on the little robo-cameras are going click-click-clickety-click and getting great smiley-face portraits - all except for Mo, of course, who's looking puzzled and saying:

"Hey! Waddaya mean..?"

Problem solved.

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Coat

Thats laughable...I actually laughed.

They used balloons to spy in WW1!

Oh yeah and you won't get many points for hitting a target that big.

Mines the one with sheepskin collar...tally ho!

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Oh the humanity!

Is curiously absent.

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Stop

A kid with a BB gun...

...that has an effective VERTICAL range of 15,000 feet ? That's close on 3 miles! Pray tell, where can I buy one of those? ;)

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Pirate

15,000 feet is too low.

If it's 15,000 feet above sea level then it's well within range of AAA in most mountanous terrain like Afghanistan. The ancient Russian S-60 57mm AAA was used with great effect against fast jets in Vietnam in the 1000-5000 feet arena, often scored hits as high as 8,000 feet, and there are plenty of them in Afghanistan left by the Russians. A 60-knot blimp would be regarded as target practice! Then there are the large number of Blowpipe, SA-7/SA-14 and Stinger SAMs which should be quite capable of hitting the 15,000 feet ceiling when fired from a 12,000 foot mountaintop, and of which are easier to hide than the S-60. All three have been used in Afghanistan. Even anti-tank missiles like the Pakistani Baktar-Shikan would be effective. It simply becomes a matter of how many and how big holes do you need to punch through it to make it crash.

Whilst such blimps might be of value in very low intensity conflicts such as policing over downtown Bahgdad, to survive over more hostile territory the platform needs to be small, fast and discrete, or 30,000+ feet up and able to hold position in the jetstream, let alone ordinary weather. The loss of the mentioned USS Macon shows how limited airships really are.

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Both the Akron and the Macon

crashed in storms iirc. No apparent need for bb guns, or missiles.

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Tim
Pirate

I want one.

I'll hang a rope off it and have the controller strapped to my arm. Make quick getaways on my hidden aircraft, just jump on the rope, secure myself and activate a preprogrammed maneuvre to a GPS location.

Batman would be proud.

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Coat

re:i want one

@Tim

If you could get a woden floor gondola and attach a rope ladder to it, you could grow a thin pointy moustache, wear a floppy hat and jump and summersault everywhere to a techno beat!. Tho youd have to use peddle power coz its green.

/i to blame my 2 year old son, but am distictly unhappy about the lack of kids tv jokes in this thread am i the only one with fri-monday off? thursday is the new friday this week.

/coat the one with dummy in one pocket, a fruit shoot in the other and various snot/drool/mud/food/other stains on it.

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b

that's CRAP!

pff!

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Thumb Up

I know what it is!!!!

It is not pinky ponk or anything like that.

It is actually an American (Texas) sized pinata full of candy that we cannot eat when broken as it may contain sugar, or artificial colours. This would enturn upset Jamie Oliver and the PC brigade who would take all candy as it will make the children fat, and not the lack of school playgrounds.

Please think of the childrren.

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Black Helicopters

@Matt

Congratulations! Your extensive knowledge of anti-aircraft weaponry has won you an all expenses paid Cuban holiday trip. The award committee should be arriving by helicopter just about.............. now!

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Black Helicopters

Money maker

Take this:

http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/rc/7397/

Add a roll of gaffer tape, and a wireless camera.

Call it the Freedom Ultra surveillance blimp.

Sell the whole works to the US govt. for a shed load of cash. :)

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Happy

Something nasty at the bottom

In The Night Garden had escaped my notice - thanks for the tip-off. Truly terrifying, that star-shaped HaHoo has a nasty dose of orchitis...

(http://www.inthenightgarden.co.uk/en/visit-haahoos.asp)

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Coat

A crusing speed of 60kts

and about 150kts all over the sky when it gets punctured by a SAM.

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Prior Art?

I seem to remember a William Gibson character who used something like that to shoot her indie film. Irritated the hell out of the main character.

Too lazy to go through my stash of his books.

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"Those who lack small kids or an early-evening cannabis habit"

Excellent line.

I have the small kids, so I'm aware of The Night Garden.

My surmise, from as little observation as possible without actually moving into my own flat or destroying the television, is that the programme creators have an early-evening cannabis habit.

And an early-morning one.

And mid-morning, lunchtime, mid-afternoon and late-evening ones and frequent all-night sessions.

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