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2005-04-14

Marine Corps Blimps?

Yes, the Corps is getting blimps, to use as radio relays in Iraq.
The blimps, called the Marine Airborne Re-Transmission Systems (MARTS), will receive signals through a fiber-optic tether. Then, the airships will transmit messages up to 100 miles away, via UHF and VHF frequencies. Troops on the ground, as well as pilots in the air, will be able to communicate through the blimps.

One airship, first tested in February, is being deployed to Iraq right now (exactly where, the Corps won't say). A second is being readied. The Marines are scrounging up $14 million to buy four more. It may sound like a lot, but it's cheaper than building radio towers -- and having Marines protect those towers.

A MARTS blimp "can run for two weeks before it would need refueling, and can remain afloat in winds up to 50 mph," according to DD. With a combination kevlar/mylar skin, the aerostat can even "handle small arms fire... function[ing] with a 4-inch diameter hole."


And we thought all the helium-heads were over in the Navy.

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