Devil in the Details

The Air Force has decided to “halt payload integration” on the Blue Devil Block 2 surveillance airship, citing “delays, technical challenges, and higher-than-expected deployment costs,” service spokeswoman Jennifer Cassidy told the Daily Report. Virginia-based Mav6 built the airship, which the Air Force was eyeing to counter improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan. The Air Force awarded Mav6 a cost-plus, fixed-fee contract in 2010 to build, test, and deploy a fully integrated airship for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance roles. “Since that time, technical problems have remained to include flight control software, tailfin design, and electrical system wiring,” said Cassidy on June 8 in a written response to questions. The airship’s payload was to include full-motion video, wide-area motion imagery systems, signals intelligence payloads, and multiple data links, she said. Wired Magazine’s Danger Room blog reported on June 7 that Mav6 is now shopping the Blue Devil airship to the Navy. Back in March, Steven Walker, USAF’s deputy assistant secretary for science, technology, and engineering, told lawmakers the Air Force would continue to use the Blue Devil Block 1 system—a series of high-definition imagery sensors carried on modified execute jets—to support troops in Afghanistan in Fiscal 2013.