Monday, February 20, 2012

U. S. Senate Defense Appropriations
6-15 March 1998
(Excerpts from Testimony)

Lt. General Samuel T. Knoss, U.S. Army,
Commanding Officer, Quartermaster Corp:

Q: General, while we have your report here; would you please describe for us the proposed use of
airships as military transport; and give some details about the results of the Turtle Airships craft that were tested for this type of use in the exercise known as HARBOR REACH? We would like to have your personal opinion as to the utility of using airships; something from your personal observations during HARBOR REACH.
A: Senator, I was involved in a Pentagon study done just after the Gulf War in which it was suggested that airships would have been far better for moving troops and materials to a theater of operations than using the surface vessels and pre-positioned supplies that we had moved into Saudi Arabia.
If you will recall, the Army was dependent upon commandeering civilian merchant marine ships to move heavy equipment and armor; and it took several months to bring all the units involved in DESERT SHIELD up to full battle ready force. Using ships to deliver the heavy equipment needed
for combat halfway around the world took several weeks alone; being restricted to delivery at ports
which were hundreds of miles from the front lines meant additional loss of time. We were successful in prosecuting DESERT STORM in large part because of the superiority in numbers
and supplies, but there was a window of time in the weeks prior to the start of DESERT STORM in which our ability to withstand an attack by Iraqi forces was in serious jeopardy due to the lack of heavy force equipment on the ground.

Transport of material by airplane was proven to be only partially adequate. While speed of transport is certainly apparent; no airplane can carry the immense amounts of heavy armor needed to fight in a large theater of operations. In the Gulf War, we used C-5's and C-141's, but they
could only carry smaller loads; and were relegated to landings at airfields that were far away from the areas that needed the supplies. The effort to keep a large fleet of airplanes moving from point to point was extremely expensive and complex; with enormous amounts of fuel consumed by the planes; and an unbelievable logistics nightmare in scheduling mid-air refueling. Even the new C-17's will still need refueling to get supplies to some distant conflict; and their rough field capability will still prove to be less than optimum.

What is needed, now, is a transport system with the ability to carry large amounts of material, including heavy amour, quickly, directly to front line units. Airships can do this.

A very large airship can carry a larger bulk payload than any airplane. It can carry a heavier load than any airplane. It can travel quickly across oceans or land; and land anywhere, whether at an airfield in the rear or a totally unprepared clearing directly at the battles' front. Secondary considerations for using airships include their extreme cost effectiveness, since they do not consume the amounts of fuel that airplanes do and so are not deponent upon refueling; and airships' surprising stealth abilities which give them exceptional survivability under combat conditions.
Turtle Airships Corporations' craft were considered to be likely candidates for this type of use after the company used one of its' airships to travel to the South Pole. That trip proved the unusual hybrid design of their airships enough to warrant consideration by the Army. The exercise HARBOR REACH was specifically run to prove the feasibility of using airships for military transport of both equipment and troops in a simulated battle environment. I was part of the team that drafted a first proposal for testing airships for this purpose. Our team designed a comprehensive test exercise that would involve airships moving a significant amount of material, including troops and heavy armor, over both sea and land for several thousand miles; and a front line delivery of these materials after a penetration of several hundred miles into a hostile
environment. The Turtle Airships met this challenge with exceptionally positive results.

Q: We have the results in these reports, Sir; may we have your own personal views about the viability of using airships, particularly those from Turtle Airships as tested?

A: Yes Sir. Simply; the airships supplied by Turtle Airships were able to load over 600 tons of supplies; including heavy tanks and full Marine battalion ; and were able to carry this force over 8,000 miles across the most rugged terrain imaginable, and to put it on the ground at front line areas ready for immediate combat within a period of 72 hours.

This was done in a stealthy manner that would have ensured complete surprise to the enemy, and was likely to have been the key factor in a battle victory. In my opinion, there is no comparable system of transport that could have done the job.

Q: General Knoss, as you know, we are trying here to establish a solid reason for funding the development of an airship program for the military. My question to you is this; why was Turtle Airships the only manufacturer considered for this type of work; why hasn't there been a competition between suppliers for this?

A: Senator, no other airships exist that have the payload capacity needed. Especially in the case of
Turtle Airships' Millennium class airships. The only other possible competitor was the Zeppelin Company in Germany; and while they have just fielded a new technology airship with a payload capacity of up to 120 tons; only Turtle Airships had the proven track record with airships of greater load carrying ability. Also, no other airships have the ro-ro capability of Turtle Airships.

Q: Ro-Ro?
A: Excuse me Senator. "Roll on, roll off". The ability to have vehicles roll on; or drive onto the aircraft or ship, and roll off, or drive off. Turtle Airships are the only airships designed for this type of loading. It is an important part of their overall utility; and extremely advantageous in the field. The importance of this cannot be stressed enough. Even with the ability to forego any need for an airstrip and to deliver supplies anywhere in he field; airships have always been hampered by their need for special mooring masts and ground crews. One of the major factors contributing to the success of the Turtle Airships craft in exercise HARBOR REACH was this ability of the airships to load or unload very quickly at any site chosen.

Q: Would you please describe for this committee the basic steps and scope of HARBOR REACH?
A: We loaded eight main battle tanks, six helicopter gunships, and light armor onto two airships at Twenty- Nine Palms Marine Corps base in the Mojave Desert in California, then flew those 3,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean to meet a Navy task force and three other airships, to take on a full Marine armored battalion from one of their amphibious ships. We then flew a second 2,500 miles over the ocean, and penetrated 1,000 miles inland from the Pacific coast, under threat of hostile air cover, to simulate an attack on Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Q: How many airships were used in HARBOR REACH; and, what size airships were used?
A: Turtle Airships supplied four of it's Southern Cross class airships, able to carry up to 80 tons; and one of their later Millennium class; which can carry over 500 tons.

Q: General Knoss, isn't it true that a C-5 Galaxy can carry the Abrams M-1 tank?
A: Yes, it can carry two, and deliver them at 600mph, whereas the airships can only travel 150mph on average. But the Turtle Millennium class airships can carry eight tanks at one time, and put them down anywhere, ready to fight. The freedom to land at any given point without needing an airstrip makes the airships many times better than using airplanes such as the C-5, despite the higher speed of the planes. I would add that the amount of fuel used by airships as compared to airplanes is many times less expensive.

Q: General, you mentioned "hostile air cover". Please elaborate for us the nature of this threat; and describe the airships' performance.
A: In order to fully test the concept of using airships to deliver supplies and troops directly to the front lines; HARBOR REACH was designed to combine threats to this purpose from naval, ground, and air forces.
HARBOR REACH was able to mount a total surprise attack on a major U.S. base; undetected by Navy or Air Force aircraft, or Army ground forces. All military units west of the Denver were on alert to detect and intercept the airships; all failed to do so.

Q: In your opinion, would the cost of creating an airship military airlift capability be worth $3 Billion? If that amount of money is appropriated for the purpose to have a fleet of twenty of the Turtle Airships' Millennium class; will it result in any appreciable advantage over our armed forces current air transport system?
A: Airships would be worth a lot more than just $3 Billion. If you consider that a C-17 can cost nearly $130 Million, the same as a giant airship; but that it uses up enormous amounts of fuel to carry a similar load; which it can only deliver to selected airfields as compared to an airship; which can land literally anywhere, whether that is on the land or in the middle of the ocean, the advantages of the airships is overwhelming. Rather that just twenty giant airships; I would recommend building one hundred, at twice their suggested cost.

Q: General Knoss you seem to be exaggerating the case for Turtle Airships.
A: Sir, these airships are unique and overwhelmingly effective craft. They combine VTOL and stealth characteristics with a very large payload capability and the ability to deliver that payload directly to any point on the planet. No other system can give the same performance. The Army; and indeed, all other U.S. forces need the Turtle Airships; that's as direct
as I can say it.

Major General John Stevens, U. S. Air Force,
Commanding Officer, Hill Air Force Base, Utah:

Q: General Stevens, how close were the Turtle Airships able to get to Hill?
A: We were aware of reported sightings of airships approaching Hill several hundred miles to the west and south. Our first confirmed sighting was from ground units located seventy miles away from the base. That made the attack phase of HARBOR REACH totally successful, that short a range is well within launch envelopes for (Short Range Attack Missiles) SRAM.

This was one airship, two others were able to fly completely undetected, and land a large force of troops and armor directly onto, or, within three miles of the base.

Q: How is it possible that your planes were unable to find the airships?
A: They cannot readily be detected by radar. The carbon fiber materials that the airships are made of are the same types as used in our B-2 bomber and F- 117. Unlike jets, the airships can move about under very low power, or even float along with their engines turned off; with no hot exhaust, the airships cannot be detected by infra-red.
Similarly, the ability to fly under low power, or none at all, make the airships have no acoustical signature either; they cannot be heard. The weather conditions at the time, and the strategies employed by the attacking forces, made visual detection extremely difficult.

Q: All right then, as I understand it, the airships can't be seen by radar or infra-red, and they can't be heard. General I want you to take these three things, and give as much detail as you can about each one, would you do that please?
A: Because the airships are made of plastics or carbon fiber, radar energy either passes directly
through them, or is absorbed. That results in no detectable reflected energy. Our stealth aircraft use these same materials. There are some vulnerable spots, notably the metals used in engines and
payloads. Our planes use a combination of burying engines deep inside the aircraft, and specific angles of construction to shield these spots; the airships have the same capabilities.

According to the written report from HARBOR REACH, the airships also used a large amount of carbon material in blankets to envelop all their cargoes within the airship hulls; this made
detection of their payloads impossible.
Normally, even stealth aircraft can be detected, if you can field a large enough radar array for phased array, or Doppler. This type of radar can detect aircraft by measuring shifts in "echo" cause by an aircraft passing quickly through the air. Energy is reflected back from background sources differently as an aircraft disturbs the air between them and the radar source.
In the case of the airships, they were able to fly slowly enough, or even stop when needed, so that there was often no discernible difference between the energy reflected when they were there, or not there.
Airplanes and helicopters have to generate huge amounts of thrust in order to fly; resulting in hot engine exhaust. Even shielded or mixed with ambient cool air, there is always some detectable infra-red. The airships do not need to use so much force to fly and so their engines can be run much cooler. Engines are placed so far inside the hull of the airships that by the time their exhaust actually exits several hundred feet away from their source, they have cooled down enough to almost match outside air temperature. Mixing them with outside air makes them totally
without any infra-red signature.
Even the smallest difference of temperature in an aircraft's skin from that of the surrounding air can make infra-red detection viable. Since the airships could travel so slowly there was no apparent friction heating of their hulls as there would have been on an airplanes' wings or helicopters' rotor blades. Apparently, even the load of snow and ice that built up on the airship hulls masked them, they were as cool as the ground beneath them.
The airships are also able to fly without using any power whatsoever. At several points in HARBOR REACH the airships were able to simply turn off their engines and let the wind blow them towards their targets. Obviously, without engines running, they can't be heard nor to they produce detectable heat.

Q: We are speaking of aircraft that are as large as many Navy ships; flying less than 1,000 above the ground. How can such large airships simply not be seen?
A: Senator, a Navy aircraft carrier is twice the size of even a Millennium class airship, and yet it can get lost on a flat ocean. An airship can move anywhere; along valley floors or canyon walls, land inside of a forest clearing, or even hover between the rocks of some mountain top. It makes finding a great steel ship out on the open sea look like child's play in comparison.
As far as visual contact is concerned, the attack during HARBOR REACH was carried out at night during a winter storm. Visibility was severely limited. During the daylight hours as the airships passed over from the west coast towards Hill Air Force base, they used nap of the earth flying and repeated landings to avoid visual detection. The airships were able to fly through canyons that airplanes would not have been able to use; and, which were consequently not placed
under heavy enough observation.
The written report indicates that the airships actually landed several times to eliminate the danger of the motion being observed; airplanes would not have been able to do this at all.
Of course, the white color of the airships, in addition to the blanket of snow carried on their hulls made them well camouflaged for this winter exercise.

Q: Thank you General. I'd like to address the actual attack on your base. You've said that one airship was sighted seventy miles away. How effective would you judge this particular airships' performance against the defensive measures taken against this threat?
A: The airship in question was sighted by Army ground troops in the Oquirr Mountains southwest of Salt Lake City. We had a flight of F-16s' from Hill overhead the airships' reported position within three minutes of the original sighting. But by that time the airship had crossed over a ridge away from the Army unit and had traveled several miles up inside a small canyon. It took another eleven minutes for the F-16 pilots to detect the airship; and to simulate a missile attack on it. During that fourteen minute interval, the airship could have traveled another forty to fifty miles closer to the base.
HARBOR REACH has judged that the missile attack was ineffective because of the inability to obtain either a hard radar or infra-red lock on the target. Additionally, the infra-red missiles were deemed to be an inadequate weapon to use against airships. Even in the unlikely event of a direct hit upon an airships' engines, it would not have caused the destruction of the airship as it would have an airplane, because the airship could still have flown, or landed, without engines.
By the time helicopter gunships could close on the airship, it had survived the missile attack; landed inside of a narrow canyon and had completed the unloading of it's complement of Marine troops along with their own helicopters and light armor. At that point, this airships' mission was successful, because the destruction of the airship itself would have been a limited success. The presence of forces on the ground meant that a much larger and time consuming response was needed to neutralize them; which gave the other attacking forces greater ability to achieve
their goals. As it was, this single airship occupied a great deal of our attention, we couldn't be sure that it was alone, or part of a group in the same sector, which meant that we were required to expend a great deal of effort searching the mountains for an unknown number of similar threats.

Q: And the other airships that attacked your base; how successful were they?
A: They were uncomfortably successful, Sir.

Q: Please elaborate for the committee the events of that evening.
A: Again, the single airship sighted and attacked was southwest of Salt Lake City. There had been some indications during the previous 24 hours that an unknown number of airships had transversed the Sierra Nevada almost due east of San Francisco. We received repeated reports that airships were flying inside of the canyon areas near the Utah-Arizona border and in Nevada.
We now know that those reports were true; but that those airships were employing decoy operations; and were not the ones that carried out the attack on Hill Air Force base. In any event, these reports and the airship we engaged to the southwest kept our attention directed primarily towards that direction.
The two airships that made a direct attack upon the the two airships that attacked the base approached from the east through the Wasach Mountains. This meant that they had actually flown many miles around to the north of Hill; since the report on HARBOR REACH indicates that they traveled across Oregon from the Pacific.

The smaller airship carried over 200 Marines, with their light armor and two Hawk missile batteries. These were landed, almost unopposed, at 0300 that morning on the southern outskirts of the base itself, inside the perimeter. At the same time the large Millennium class ship landed up inside of a canyon east of Hill and unloaded heavy tanks there, taking advantage of both the security of the canyon, and the highway that comes down through it.
In one hour the Marines inside the perimeter of the base had secured almost half of the entire base; even though they were spread to thin to hold against our reinforced units. The damage brought about by this small force as judged by HARBOR REACH is very telling. They were successful in destroying the rail lines and the old ICBM storage areas, and they were able to lock onto and take out eleven aircraft, including F-16' and A-10s'. More to the point, they managed to tie up the entire base by effectively denying access to the southern portion of the runways.
It is apparent that they were so successful only because of the airship transport. Instead of landing as paratroops, which would have initially spread out their force and used up time needed to gather back together, they were able to co-ordinate all their activities into direct action immediately upon landing. Had the second airship of troops been as successful in approaching Hill from the southwest to join up with these; the attack upon Hill could very well have achieved a total victory.
While the attack centered on the south of the base, the heavy tanks moved down through the canyons and were able to approach the base to a point where they would have been within firing range. The nature of the city surrounding Hill meant that the tanks involved in HARBOR REACH could not actually maneuver to close; however, they were still adjudged to have played a significant part in the harassment of the base operations and supporting the attack to the

Q: General Stevens, was the landing of the heavy tanks by airship near Hill Air Force base a real
concern for you?
A: I believe that the main point of the tank landing was simply to highlight the ability of the airships to transport heavy armor to any point needed. This was totally apparent. The nature of the equipment was immaterial. It could just as well have been Patriot missiles, or another brigade of Marines. The point is that the Turtle Airships represent a quantum leap in military
capabilities. I would say that airships represent an entirely new weapons system; and not just a transport system. I will also go on record here; that the airships' stealth characteristics, both in materials and performance abilities, can make them a possible weapons platform that is without equal. Certainly it proved so in the attack on Hill. We were defeated in a very apparent way by the airships; our radars and other sensors could not detect them. Whenever our planes flew to close the airships could land immediately. With no detectable difference between their snow covered hulls or the surrounding hills, they were exceptionally difficult to find and stop; and they could move about inside canyons that even helicopters could not use safely. If the airship had carried offensive air-to-air missiles themselves, they could have shot down our planes almost at will.

Captain Lewis R. Reynolds, U. S. Navy (Retired),
former Commanding Officer, USS Tarawa:

Q: Please describe your vessels' part in operation HARBOR REACH.
A: As written in the report to which you have referred, Senator, the Tarawa was specifically designed to support Marine Corps amphibious warfare missions. The ship carries a light armored brigade, or about 1,800 troops. The armament making up this force include TOW missile vehicles, light field guns, two Hawk anti-aircraft missile batteries, and up to six Apache helicopter gunships. The Tarawa transferred half of this force onto four airships at sea.

Q: Captain Reynolds, we are trying to ascertain the utility of using these airships. Please explain any difficulty encountered while loading the Marines on board the airships, or, describe the advantages you feel might be gained by using airships as in HARBOR REACH.
A: Well, the Marines are trained specifically to disembark from ships, so there wasn't any particular trouble at all. In fact, the airships load and unload from between their catamaran hulls anyway; much like the interior bay of the Tarawa. We launched our amphibious vehicles directly from underneath our hull as always, and the airships would take on the Marines and their equipment in almost identical fashion. It worked remarkably well.
As far as advantages, I think the most striking one, as far as the Navy is concerned, would be the fact that the airships could not be seen on radar.

Q: Captain Reynolds, you stated earlier that the Navy was not aware of the presence of the airships that were on the surface, and that they were sighted by scout vessels only twenty-five miles from the main body of the task force. The meeting place had been established, had it not? How could the airships not be detected?
A: One of the major questions about using airships that HARBOR REACH was supposed to answer was whether their stealth abilities were sufficient enough to use them as transport aircraft. Because of their relatively slow speeds, airships would be fairly vulnerable, unless they could not be detected. Hawkeye scout planes from the Abraham Lincoln had spotted the two airships flying out from the coast three hundred miles away; and the entire fleet was watching their approach. What we did not know then was that three other airships had flown out from Hawaii and were lying in wait at our rendezvous point.
Their stealthiness was a complete shock; to have them that close without being seen was like having a wolf pack of enemy submarines manage to move right in amidst the ships of the task force.

Q: The airships that were flying though; they could be seen on radar, Captain?
A: The large airship flying out to meet the fleet had left California the day before, and there was still some on board work going on to mask its' payload of heavy armor, so it could still be seen on the radar. The ones that had already arrived at the meeting point were not carrying loads of metal equipment or troops, and so they were invisible.

Q: Invisible. Were these same airships detectable after loading your Marines and their equipment?
A: No they were not.

Q: It is my understanding that our Navy's listening capabilities enable us to detect ships from the sound of waves striking their hulls alone; how is it that the airships which were waiting for the Tarawa on the surface were not detected by sonar?
A: They were not exactly in the water, Senator, they were hovering just a few feet off of the surface of the ocean and drifting along with the wind.

Q: Captain, I have been informed that the cost of building the Tarawa was about $280 Million. The committee is seeking information that will enable us to make a judgment about funding airships at almost twice that cost; the larger of the airships used in HARBOR REACH, I would add. Knowing the amount of money involved; and seeing that it took four of the smaller airships to load only half of your complement of Marines on board, would you consider airships to be a viable alternative to using ships like the Tarawa?

A: Senator, are you asking a Navy man about replacing his ships with aircraft? I may be retired,
Sir...... Well, the answer is an unqualified "yes", Senator. Remember that these were the smaller airships; the giant one used could have held the entire brigade. In any case, it isn't just a question of how much each type of vessel can carry, or how far, but a question of what else they can do. The airships can carry huge loads just as a surface vessel, but then they can fly inland. It makes them far better. Airships have been used by the Navy before, Sir, so, if you do fund them, the Navy might be the best place to have them.

Colonel Mark. S. Shaver Jr., U. S. Marine Corps

Q: Thank you Colonel. It is true your report has been included in the overall synopsis of HARBOR REACH. What we wish now, however, is a more detailed, personal evaluation of the airships usefulness. Would you please tell us more about your own impressions about how your unit benefited from using the airships? A bit more about he loading at sea, and the part your troops played in making the airships less observable on radar.
A: As I have said, Ma'am, my personal view is that the airships were a superb choice. Loading our
helicopters was the only part of the operation that was in any way difficult, the helicopters had to be lifted by winch; which was to awkward, in my opinion. At first, I thought that taking the Apaches was not a good idea and that they should have been delivered by plane as always. However, it was better to have them with us when we were forced to land hot.
As far as getting my men and other equipment on, the airships were just as easy as working with our regular amphibious ships, because the ramp underneath the airship allowed us to simply run our landing craft up onto it and drive most of our vehicles off.
The same goes for transferring the Marines on board, they simply stepped off onto either the ramp, or the smaller passenger landings that the airships use for their civilian operations.

Q: Turtle Airships Corporation had provided your troops with some special materials to use on your equipment; would you please tell us what this was, and how it was used?
A: We do not refer to Marines as "troops" Ma'am, Senator, that's something the Army might do. We carried several tons of blankets off of Tarawa that were made up of carbon fiber material that we used to wrap up all of our armor in including small arms. We were told that this would ensure that radar could not pick up all the metal; since the carbon absorbed the radar. Each Marine had an individual blanket of the same material too, to put around all his personal gear, from belt buckles to bayonets.

Q: Didn't that mean that you were unable to have access to your weapons?
A: Yes, for most of the flight. We were walking around in socks; like "silent running' in a submarine. When we crossed over inland and the airship could use the terrain to avoid most radars, we were able to re-arm and prepare for any engagements.

Q: "Walking around in socks"?
A: Yes, Ma'am, and in my opinion, that's just one more reason why the airships are so good; because we could walk around. It's not like being strapped into a canvas seat inside of a loud jet for hours and hours. In the airships, because they are so roomy, we were able to avoid a lot of the stress caused by simply being crammed into a plane. My Marines could walk around, exercise, or sack out. It is an incredible boost for morale to be able to do that. The airships we were on were regular ones used for Turtle Airships' aerial sightseeing, of course, and so they were especially
comfortable. Military airlift airships would give the same benefits though.

Q: How was your particular airships' performance after it had been detected and "attacked" by the Air Force jets?
A: We moved up and down a lot of rough areas, into canyons and so on; which made the airship harder to find. This gave us a decent opportunity to deploy our Marines. We landed finally in a very narrow canyon that protected us from direct attack. There was a slight overhang in the rocks at the bottom of the canyon that would even have been impossible for gunships to get into.
The airship could hover and move along at a walking speed to avoid the rocks; without having to worry about rotor blades hitting the canyon walls. This gave us enough time to fully disembark; and to set up defensive positions. We were also able to go on the offensive and to actively engage jets with our Hawk missiles. We took down a Side Band Radar plane; which was a great achievement. Even though we were not in on the actual penetration of the air base, we kept a lot of aircraft and other resources busy for five hours.
HARBOR REACH proved that the airships could deliver Marines anywhere. They are better than ships, and better than airplanes.

Lieutenant Martha S. Walker, U.S. Army

Q: Lieutenant, when you first saw the airship, what was it doing?
A: We had received reports from other units to our west in the Sierra south of Reno; most of these came from intercepted civilian communications; people remarking on the phone about having seen something in the sky, and so on. My company was spread out over a ten mile range; with small nine man units stationed at regular intervals.
We did not initially see the airship at all, instead, we noticed a group of persons moving about in the field where they should not have been, and on investigating found the airship on the ground.

Q: What was your first thought?
A: It almost seemed that the men disappeared into a cave or something. Even with our night vision
equipment we were unable to discover the airship; it was covered with a lot of snow and simply appeared like a hill in the dark. We simply stumbled upon it.

Q: You were able to get reports off about the airships' whereabouts, weren't you, Lieutenant?
A: Yes. That's when we were "captured" by the Marines. That capture led to their having trouble moving towards the target in Utah because it had interrupted our scheduled reports, since they could not duplicate our code to make it appear that we were still active in the field. So, from that point, this particular airship simply flew decoy to draw attention away from the other airships.

Q: Lieutenant, our report here on HARBOR REACH mentions a particularly interesting event; one that might be key to our determination about the advantages of using airships for military transport as opposed to using airplanes.

I am speaking about he transfer of one airships' cargo onto another airship, after the first had been "shot down". You saw that, didn't you? Would you please tell us what happened?
A: The airship I was on was the one caught by A-10 anti-tank jets just north of Death Valley. Apparently, the reports that my own company had made were instrumental in getting the jets up that way, and other Army units on the ground were able to steer the A- 10's to the airship. It was seen again, and jumped by the jets. Their anti-tank cannon were very effective, and the TV guided Maverick missiles, where other kinds of missiles would have been practically useless; and so our airship was considered to have been "destroyed".
In reality, the judges make determinations about any engagement based on a lot of outside factors. The judge gave a kill to the Marines on the airship, since, if it had been carrying defensive missiles, it could have taken out at least one of the A-10's. Then, they also had indicated that the airship was only 50% destroyed, because, unlike an airplane, the helium would have let them come down gently instead of crashing.
That meant that the airship could land and unload at least some of the Marines. The judges also divided up the Marine force into "causalities", and equipment destroyed. Because the jets were on their last legs as far as fuel goes and had to return to Henderson Air Force base at Las Vegas, they could only report where the attack had taken place.
Well, before any other "enemy" could arrive to take up a continued attack or anything, we landed the airship and unloaded all the Marines that had been determined to have survived. Since we were deep into the mountains of Nevada, the airship was not found again after the attack; we stayed there for almost twelve hours.
Just at dawn, a second airship landed next to ours, and the remaining effective force of Marines were reloaded onto the second airship. I haven't been able to read the report on HARBOR REACH, but I was told later that the second airship had already dropped one Marine group into the mountains of northern Utah less than 100 miles from their target, and had returned to our position to pick up the force from the airship that I had been on.

Q: Thank you. If the Marines on your airship had been in an airplane, they would have been lost completely, correct?
A: Yes. The Marines were landed though; they could have made it all the way up north to the airbase perhaps; if there had been any need. By then, HARBOR REACH had been called off, the exercise was over.

Master Sergeant William Oldham, U. S. Marine Corps:

Q: In your capacity as Loadmaster, what was your overall impression about the use of the airships for airlifting such things as heavy armor?
A: I can only speak about the large one we loaded at Twenty-Nine Palms. To take on eight M-1 tanks is an incredible feat, period. That's over 350 tons; and we still had room to carry other equipment, including many tons of supplies such as artillery shells and the like.

I've loaded C-5s; there is no comparison. The airships are better.

Then to be able to fly directly to our target without having to stop somewhere else, why, that alone is worth having them.

Mr. Darrell L. Campbell, President and CEO, Turtle Airships Corporation:

Q: And how long did it take to prepare for HARBOR REACH, I mean, how long a period were you given to prepare the airships for their use as military airlift craft, from the time these officers contacted Turtle Airships?
A: Part of the restrictions placed on the company was a prohibition for us to modify the airships to any great extent. We took the four Southern Cross class ships directly out of our aerial touring service; and delivered them for use in HARBOR REACH after simply removing the windows and some minor replacements of metal parts in order to eliminate those sources of possible detection by radar; so, it took no great amount of time. I would say less than two weeks, total, after the
commitment had been agreed to, and the date set for HARBOR REACH to begin.

Q: These are the same the, as the ones Turtle Airships sells for $130 Million? Why will it cost $3
Billion then?
A: The twenty airships being considered have some design alterations for their unique military missions. If you consider their cost in comparison to the cost of a C-17, the success of the HARBOR REACH exercise leaves no doubt that it is money well spent.

Q: I understand, Sir, that your company is requesting permission to make sales of these military airships overseas?
A: We have inquiries from numerous states. Currently we are negotiating sales with the states of Israel, Japan, and Turkey. All are allied with the United States.

Q: Isn't it true that Turtle Airships has already received over $300 Million in guaranteed loans from the government?
A: No, Senator, it is not true.
What is true is that Turtle Airships Corporation has received over $300 Million in loans, from private sources, which have been guaranteed by the Commerce Department under their shipbuilding program designed to keep that industry and it's jobs and economic benefits here at home instead of going overseas.
I might point out for you, Sir, that these loans were all paid in full, with interest, and on time.

Q: Turtle Airships is attempting to contract the sale of airships as military airlift vehicles. Why then, during HARBOR REACH, was there such an emphasis made on the airships' stealth qualities?
A: We know our airships could offer several distinct advantages over airplanes; they could carry bigger loads, land anywhere, and not be detected. Airplanes could carry more loads, faster, it is true; but that would mean far greater costs involved, especially in fuel.
The ability to land anywhere is one of the greatest advantages to using airships; although it could be considered to be duplicated by helicopters, again, at considerable increase in costs. However, the ability of the airships to make these kinds of deliveries of troops and armor; totally invisible to most detection methods, make the airships much more survivable; a distinctly unique quality.

Naturally, we wanted to highlight our airships' inherent worth as much as possible; therefore, we challenged our military to intercept them, if they could.

Q: The flight of the largest airship was monitored continually after it left the Marine Corps base in
California, until it met up with the Abraham Lincoln carrier task force in the Pacific. How were you able to make all of the five airships disappear after that point?
A: Obviously, if we had wanted to make our approach towards the fleet in secret, we could have done so. The three airships flown out from Hawaii proved that. If they had been an attacking force, the Abraham Lincoln could have been destroyed easily.

After masking the airships' cargoes, we moved 700 miles to the north to pick up the storm front that was closing in on the coast at that time. At full speed, that flight time was just under four
hours; in between coverage by surveillance satellites, which could be pre-determined due to their regular orbit trajectories. By the time the satellites could be used to try to pick up the airships with their high resolution radar and other means which might have discovered the airships wake through the air, the airships were under cover of the storm clouds, and we had turned off their engines to drift with the winds without making any disturbance or energy level increases at all. That got them as far as the northern California and Oregon coasts; where they were also able to employ nap of the earth flying to avoid detection.

Q: Is there anything your airships can't do?
A: Senator, we are looking into that! Seriously, we are certainly looking into other military applications such as surveillance. Some I cannot discuss.

Q: How would you characterize the Turtle Airships?
A: It is the design that is the deciding factor. The rigidity of the Turtle Airships' shell makes them faster, able to take on difficult, heavier loads than other airships might have been able to thus far.
As HARBOR REACH has proven, the Turtle Airships can perform, something akin to a B-2 bomber that has been enlarged enough to carry heavy tanks or hundreds of soldiers; modified to be able to land anywhere on land or sea, use less than a tenth of the fuel it had been using before, and still carry it's bomb load; all, still undetected, right to a battle front; and cost less than a quarter as much as it had before.
All in all, I would argue that the Turtle Airships Corporation is offering the military a grand deal

Monday, January 4, 2010


“….we wanted to crash the thing; but we had to sneak around a bit to do so….due to the fact that the FAA would not sanction a deliberate mid-air collision. So in order to carry out the operation we left Tillamook and went out over the Pacific Ocean well outside of the 12 mile limit; although the secret did get out and we were shadowed by a television crew from the Portland NBC affiliate station and some reporters from both Aviation Week and Janes’…”

“….a fully loaded Cessna 172 under remote control; while the airship was cruising at just over 90mph at 3,000’; with the plane descending towards it from the starboard side at about 150mph, as though it were on approach to a runway.

We crashed the Cessna into the top of the airships’ hull just forward of the vertical stabilizer. A perfect hit! You could see panels buckle and an almost knifelike slash though the hull where the left wing of the airplane had sheared away upon hitting and cut through. Also, a large amount of the airplanes’ fuel was blown out in a terrific spray which caught on fire and was almost instantaneously put out from the lack of oxygen when the helium began venting through the airships’ side…..”

“…there is a fabulous shot on the cabin video right at the time of impact; of Thorson and Roberts (pilot and co-pilot) reacting to the impact; they’re seriously occupied for maybe a minute and half……the fire alarm going off and the overhead screens indicating the ships’ heavy condition because of a loss of lifting gas…then the alarms shutting down almost immediately because of both the fire suppression and the computer measuring out ballast drop to compensate for the lost of lift…..We had lost over 11,000 lbs of lifting capacity inside of one minute; but the automatic dropping of water ballast overcame that exactly as it was designed to do…..and these two guys are grinning like crazy! Because that’s’ it; the ship actually settled a total of 160 feet, stabilizes, and continues on at cruise speed….”

“….and Thorson chooses to continue flying farther…with several landings on the surface of the ocean to pick up some Turtle Airship personnel from the boats and a television crew. We flew a total of 10 more hours; with speeds up to 164 mph….It was phenomenal! Especially in light of the fact that half the Cessna is still hanging outside the hull; the geodetic frame and the strength of the carbon had combined to shrug off that much of the force of impact. It looked like a puny harpoon stuck in the side of Moby Dick.

When we finally returned to Tillamook we had maybe 20,000 spectators lining the roadsides, the dock, and out in the bay in everything that could possibly float. Setting down amidst all those boats was the most difficult part of the entire project. The FAA had representatives there; but what were they to do?

We took film crews later on Friday into the hull itself to photograph the extent of the damage. The Cessna was still embedded in the hull, panels blown out, and two of the sixteen gas cells completely deflated. Total time for repairing this damage was 14 hours; and inflation took another 20. Within one weekend, the ship was fully operational again.”

“… one point I was asked what we would be christening the new airship…… about “VINDICATOR”?

Monday, June 29, 2009


Sail to Steam
Wood to Ironclads
Dreadnaughts to Carriers

Carriers to ?????

Consider the magic of Carbon. Building a ship or aircraft out of carbon results in more structural strength than the metals of the past. Building an aircraft or ship out of carbon gives it a natural "sink" that absorbs electromagnetic radiation; making the aircraft or ship more "stealthy" than before. Shaping a carbon constructed ship or aircraft can cause it to reflect radar away from the emitter; again, more stealthy than before. This is, after all, much of the premise behind the B-2 Bomber, or Sea Shadow ship.

Now, enlarge the vision. Hearken back to the giant dirigibles of the 1930's...constructed then out of aluminum and canvas. Substitute Carbon for those materials. As carbon is almost half the weight of aluminum, and several times stronger than steel of the same weight, it would be possible to re-create those giant airships of the past, in exact dimensions as before, but using the new carbon materials; end up with craft that weighed almost half; thereby increasing their payload by that much; and, making them stronger as well.

Consider a new type of Navy; one that can take full advantage of the "Aerial Ocean".; one comprised of flying ships. From small craft carrying a dozen crew members, or giant flying aircraft carriers carrying new UCAV aircraft.

Ships that can fly overland; without worrying about "draft" or shorelines, or ice. Ships that simply float in the air; that can hover, or land and take off straight up and down like a helicopter.
Ships that can land in the water, or land on any unprepareed empty field.

Ships without range limits, or re-fueling needs. As airships are by their nature, very large, they can carry large arrays of solar cells. Coupling these with other forms of power generation such as fuel cells or similar technologies; it is possible to create ships that fly without need of any fuel

Airships can carry immense payloads; these can be configured in almost any form of defensive or offensive manner wanted.

An "Aerial Ocean" Navy, more versatile than the longer limited to the water.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


This blog is meant to promote the use of AIRSHIPS for the military. These are not the blimps or zeppelin type of craft that most are familiar with.


The Turtle airship is a true lighter-than-air craft.

Although the Turtle airship has a lifting body shape, it is not a hybrid airship. The airship can operate using only aerostatic lift supplied though negative bouyancy. Additional, supplemental aerodynamic force is derived from the shape of the airship The overall shape of the airship is a broad helipsoid.
The airship has an internal framing system of carbon fibre trusses and matrix. The entire outer surface of the airship hull is comprised of numerous rigid honeycomb sandwich panels of aluminum and carbon fibre. These panels are a uniform size and shape and are laid up in a geodesic construction, giving the airship a faceted appearance.

Instead ot the traditional gondola, the bottom of the Turtle airship has three separate elongated hulls in a trimaran configuration. A main, or central, hull extends the full length of the airship from bow to stern, with two shorter "outrigger' hulls. In larger models of the airships, the two outrigger hulls contain living quarters for passengers.
Engines and motors are embedded within the central hull and horizontal planes. Air inlets for the engines and motors are located underneath the airships' hull. Thrust from engines is directed through plenums to the stern of the airship, and through the top and bottom of the airship.

The top half of the airships' hull is covered with thin film photovoltaic materials.

Two lighter-than-air gasses are used to supply lift; these are contained within rigid walled compartments within the major portion of the airships' hull.

Manned airships provide sufficient room for comfortable crews quarters, with full kitchen and bath facilities. Waste is collected and incinerated board the airship.

The Turtle airship uses dual propulsion systems; electric and diesel
The top of the airships' hull is covered with thin film photovoltaic solar cells which supply electricity to batteries; these battries in turn are used to power electric motors and propellors. Thrust can be directed directly perpendicular to the line of flight, or straight up or down as needed. Amounts of thrust, and directions needed for thrust to be diverted are determined by computers tied to sensors located throughout the body of the airship which measure changes in forces caused by varying winds. This system provides a dynamic, constantly attenuated control and allows the Turtle airship to maintain absolute level and stable flight through unstable air currents. These same systems are used to effect for landing the airship or take off; thrust being diverted straight up or down as needed.
These systems give the Turtle airship unparalleled maneuverability; the airship can hover, move directly from side to side, or spin horizontaly on its' own axis. The primary propulsion is derived from biofueled jets. This makes the airships reach speeds of up to 200 mph.
Solar Power is used for long endurance flights as needed during sightseeing cruise flight.
from the propellers located within the horizontal planes is used together with the main thrust
The materials used in the Turtle airships' hull are durable enough to leave outside in all weather conditions; the Turtle airship does not need a hangar. The Turtle airship does not tie up to a mooring mast, and needs no ground crew to assist in take-off or landings.

The Turtle airship is a totaly VTOL craft; it does not bank in turns, and maintains a level attitude during all parts of flight, including take-off and landing.
Helium is not vented.
Water ballast can be regained or obtained during flight directly from ambient air by using water condensation units.
Flying on solar power alone, the airship has no range limitations.
In large airships, enough solar cells are available to produce excess electricity; this can be used to split water into its' oxygen and hydrogen components; these gasses can the be fed directly to burn as fuel if desired.

The airship settles directly onto any suitably sized calm water surface.
Upon landing on the surface of the water, the airship takes on water ballast After taking on ballast, the airship lies in the water as stable as a marine vessel. The airship is then moved and steered and docks at a pier just as a marine vessel
To take off, water ballast is jettisoned, and thrust is directed downwards; the primary engines force air under the airship hull to break surface tension and ease take-off.

The Turtle airship can hover over a landing area for extended periods; or, decend very gradually . This vertical, slow approach is much safer than other airplanes, helicopters, or hybrid airships. The Turtle airship lands directly onto the ground; without ground crew assistance; and, without any need of special mooring masts or other prepared facilities.
Upon landing, the Turtle airship can be held to the surface by the directed thrust, or anchored as desired from outside the craft. preprogrammed toinclude perform multiple landings and take offs as desired, without ground crew attendance.
Reduntant computers and sensors systems monitor and control all aspects of flight, measuring thrust, bouyancy, ambient and internal temperatures, gas volumes, ballasting, electric power and fuel reserves, altitude above ground level, and payload weights. Radar and computers select optimum flight paths through all weather conditions.
Turtle airship mooring systems that are automaticly engaged upon landing either in water or on ground, are locked until directed by a pilot.

No mooring masts or other recovery and/or docking facilities are needed by a Turtle airship. No hangers are needed.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Weather and Maneuverabilty

WEATHER: past blimps and zeppelins have all been constructed out of flimsy materials such

as doped canvas, and rubberized or plastic coated synthetic fabrics. All are susceptible to tearing, and all degrade in ultraviolet light. This has resulted in craft that had little structural strength to begin with, and lessened the more they were flown.

Even though these could fly in virtually any kind of weather, they are not. The difficulty is not the wind, rain, snow, fog or what have you; the difficulty is the ground handling. Because these past airships are so flimsy and cumbersome, landing or taking off while being hauled about by a ground crew, or docking at a mooring mast, or moving in and out of a protecting hangar, becomes a nightmare as the airships are tossed about in varying air currents.

Historic losses of large airships were generally due to flight in extremes of weather; ie: thunderstorms. In the early years of lighter-than-air aviation, there were no modern weather prediction methods such as radar or satellites; and airships were flown in hazardous conditions, often by sight alone. Upon encountering severe weather, an airship (then) could not move quickly enough to avoid it if need be, nor aware in most cases that weather conditions were to severe for the structural integrity of the airship.


(1) Construct airships of aluminum and carbon fiber. These materials are light enough to replace historic materials, yet they can be made extremely strong and weatherproof. They do not degrade in ultraviolet light.
(2) Cease docking airships at mooring masts and using ground crews for assistance in landing or take off. Instead, design airships to land directly onto the surface, land or water. This necessitates a change from the "rounded belly" shape of all past airships. It is an easy and common sense solution.
(3) Cease placing airships inside of hangars. Building airships out of sturdy weatherproof materials enables this change; just as a lightweight geodesic dome is used as a primary building.

MANEUVERABILITY: Past blimps and zeppelin type airships only have rudders/elevators at the stern of the craft; whilst engine thrust has been placed far in front of those to the center of the airships' hulls. This makes them extremely cumbersome to steer, much like a sailboat. The only steerage available is at speed; when the airship slows down to land or take off, it cannot readily be steered or controled. This is one reason why ALL past airships have needed to be literaly "man handled" into position by large ground crews.

Flight characteristics of past airships have been adversely effected by this rudder/power arrangement as well. Because of the long lag time between rudder or elevator commands and actions of the airships; they tend to "porpoise" in flight, or swerve off course repeatedly.

Because all past airships have been constructed of flimsy materials, they have been unable to use heavier, more powerful engines that might be employed to reduce the buffeting or force of winds in poor weather conditions.


(1) By constructing airships of strong materials, they can be made larger and carry much more powerful engines; even jet engines. This will enable them to avoid, or reduce the effects of varying winds and poor weather conditions.
(2) Building rigid airships with interior framing allows engines to be placed away from the center bottom location as in the past. This can permit thrust to be directed to ANY direction; thereby making the airship much more stable and able to counter variable air currents.
(3) Constructing airships out of very strong materials, and proper design of framing members, allows the airships to carry multiple engines, some dedicated to primary propulsion, some dedicated to maneuver.
(4) Use of directed thrust, and placing elevators forward on the airship as well as at the stern allows for more control in flight.

Q: How would they fly safely in any weather?
A: Turtle airships use multiple engines, all of which can direct thrust to any direction. Sensors placed throughout the airship measure forces brought about by varying air currents many times each second; and computers then determine where to apply compensating thrust in order to maintain stability during flight. Of course, the Turtle airships' hull is strong enough to allow it to withstand poor weather conditions. First rule of airship flight....simply avoid bad weather. Airships can do so because they do not have to fly in a straight line from point A to point B in order to conserve fuel, as do airplanes.

(sigh..and here we GO...)

No blimps, no blimps, no blimps, NO blimps, NO BLIMPS, NO!

No mooring masts.
No slow, big fat bags of helium
No ground crews handling line lines to land or take off.
No giant hangars.
No Blimps, (or zeppelin-like similar craft)

Aw, hells bells people.....

Monday, April 13, 2009

PMA-262LTARFI Sources Sought Synopsis: Aug 29, 2008 The following information is provided to assist the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) in conducting market research to identify potential contractors to develop, test, integrate, produce, field and support Lighter Than Air (LTA) platforms/systems. Strike Weapons and Unmanned Aviation (U.S. Navy and Marine Corps Persistent Maritime Unmanned Aircraft Systems) Navy charter to explore LTA free flight technologies in support of Navy missions. LTA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) (optionally manned) have the potential to provide persistent Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Communications (ISRC) support as well as logistical support (manned) for tactical level maneuver/decisions and unit level low altitude air defense/force protection for Naval ships (multi-ship classes) and Marine Corps land forces. may include multiple air vehicles, and support equipment with a 5,000 mi radius of action with transglobal range (2,000 mi radius of action) and outsized payloads measuring up to 500 tons. These systems will support Naval missions such as building the Recognized Maritime Picture, Maritime Security Operations, Maritime Interdiction Operations, and support of Naval units operating from sea/shore in the global war on terrorism. The systems will also support Marine Corps missions making improved integration with ground schemes of maneuver. NAVAIR LTA interests include but are not limited to the following: conventional airships, hybrid airships, free floating balloon systems, and other High Altitude LTA systems. Additionally NAVAIR is interested in supportive LTA technologies to include but not limited to: buoyancy control systems, advanced/alternative propulsion/power generation systems, lightweight high strength envelope materials, vectored flight control systems, weather prediction/avoidance systems, lifting gas generation systems, unconventional landing schemes, ground handling, ship interface concepts, and LTA modeling/scaling methodologies. The sensor version has aa. mission radius of 5000 nmb. 2500 lbs payload thresholdc. un-manned semi-autonomous with remote pilot take off and landingd. 16Kw power thresholde. 7 days loiter at mission radius at 20,000 ft MSL is desired threshold. The logistics version would be manned and support for "drive on – drive off" cargo movement, operating from unprepared surfaces or from water (lakes, rivers open sea).a. mission radius of 1000 nm optionally manned. up to 500 tons. The aircraft must be able to take off and land from water, snow, sand, and from un-prepared fields Naval Air Systems Command