Not Your Grandfather’s Zeppelin

Going into the you’ve-got-to-be-kidding category is the name for DARPA’s new global reach air vehicle program—it’s Walrus. But the news is that DARPA last week issued contracts to two companies for this venture into a heavier-than-air vehicle designed to transport troops and cargo. They are Lockheed Martin and Aeros Aeronautical Systems. Their task, in this first phase of Walrus, is to develop systems studies and a “notional concept of the objective vehicle.” Bottom line: This is not supposed to be your grandfather’s airship. The effort must, says DARPA, “establish clear and credible solutions that provide confidence that earlier airship-era limitations will be overcome.” On to the hard data: It must carry more than 500 tons 12,000 nautical miles in less than seven days at a competitive cost.