Germany now has a monster dirigible. It is expected to replace heavy lift helicopters for many industrial uses and would make a perfect patrol craft.
CargoLifter CL160 Super Heavy-Lift Cargo Airship - Aerospace Technology (external - login to view)
Can they be made self-sealing? That's a hell of a big target should one happen upon misadventure.
If it's a dirigible, and not a blimp, then ordinarily it would be full of gas-bags, such that if hit, then only bags in the line of fire would be popped, such that at worst it should just float to the ground.
In any case, I just did some research, and from what I can tell, delivery has been stalled because of problems with funding.
They raised the money as an IPO, and were able to build the hanger (the most important part, and currently the world's largest) but they ran short of money, and then mysterious "market forces" eventually caused things to happen in such a way where they were not able to do anything without "partnering" with a traditional player like Boeing, and since Boeing landed itself on the board of directors, everything's been turned into an endless cycle of design studies. ("Free-Market" my ***.)
Now, if a Trudeau were still in charge, and if he was pressured to spend $16 billion, he would have gone to Germany, taken a controlling interest in the struggling company, ordered up a fleet at cost which he could of course do as a key investor, hand them over to the air-force so it could stop feeling ignored, and now the north is getting patrolled, and the money has been spent on something that actually delivers a useful result.
*That's* how *real* leadership works.
Last edited by Omicron; Aug 14th, 2010 at 12:04 AM..