NAPLES, Italy — The Army’s newest aircraft looks more like a Thanksgiving Day parade reject than the latest weapon against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle is expected to provide commanders with real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information, all from 20,000 feet.
The $517 million, five-year contract to build up to three blimplike LEMVs was awarded to Northrop Grumman by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command. While company officials wouldn’t provide a solid launch date, they said the first one should be floating over the skies of Afghanistan in about 18 months.
It’s a blimp. The US is going to spend $517 million building blimps. Hallelujah! For the last nine years, I’ve been screaming and shouting that the US can’t win in Afghanistan without a fleet of blimps, but did anyone listen? No. They all just laughed and called me crazy. They jeered, they spat, they looked at me with stony silence. I felt like Daniel in the lion’s den, but I never lost faith because I knew the truth:
Why did the British lose in Afghanistan? No Blimps.
Why did the Russians lose in Afghanistan? No blimps.
Why are we losing Afghanistan? No blimps.
The Pentagon sees the truth but waits. I knew this, and so I patiently endured the taunts of my countrymen until they all came around to this blindingly obvious fact: If America is to win the war in Afghanistan, we must build a bigger, better balloon.
And now, at last, I’ve been vindicated.
And what’s the worst that can happen? If the balloons fail, we can always paint Coors Light logos on the side and have them film football games right here at home. It’s a win-win idea. Am I the only one with any vision around here?