American Blimp Corp A60+
The U.K.'s Defense Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) cornpleted field trials in Kosovo of a prototype of an ultrawideband synthetic aperture radar being developed to detect mines and unexploded ordnance.
The project was run by Mineseeker, a joint venture between DERA and The Lightship Group, a company owned by Virgin Atlantic chief Richard Branson. Mineseeker aims to employ airships as mobile sensor platforms to detect and delineate mined areas and unexploded cluster bombs and other ordnance. In addition to serving as a realistic test bed for DERNs ultrawideband radar, the airship was also fitted with electro-optic sensors. The Kosovo deployment provided valuable imagery and data for the U.N.'s Mine Action Coordination Center (MACC) which is conducting mine clearance operations in the country.
Feasibility flight trials of the radar mounted on a helium-filled, nonrigid airship were conducted by DERA in January in the U.K. The same 40-meter-long A60+ airship, built by the American Blimp Corp., was used in Kosovo. Data generated from the ultrawideband radar deployment in Kosovo is being studied by DERA officials in the U.K. The sensor is intended to locate and differentiate metal and plastic mines.
The deployment began with the manned airship starting operations four days later, operating from bases in Kosovo and Italy. Over a period of six weeks, the Mineseeker team surveyed 30 sites in Kosovo, locating, identifying and mapping recorded minefields, as well as searching for unexploded ordnance from cluster bomb strikes.
American Blimp Corporation A-60+