New Again: Innovative Missions for 21st Century American Airships   [open pdf - 112KB]

This research paper was submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Operational Studies. From the Executive Summary, the author's Thesis, Discussion, and Conclusion: "Thesis: Airships have great potential to support 21st Century American military operations in a wide variety of missions. The US should embrace airships and take the necessary steps to ensure its armed forces gain the greatest advantage from these unique platforms. Discussion: Recent improvements in structural technology, propulsion systems, avionics, and sensors have greatly increased the performance of airships. Airships can be used to perform an expanding list of missions, including: intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); airlift; communications replay; maritime patrol; theater ballistic missiles defense; and space launch. However, lack of both focus and funding is currently hampering the development, production, and integration of airships into America's 21st Century arsenal. Conclusion: Recent advances in airships performance, in conjunction with ongoing research and development, point to a bright future for airships in support of future US military operations. America must take the necessary steps now to gain the greatest benefits from the unique capabilities of tomorrow's airships."

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