Dead Zeppelin

By Bill Maher


This may look like a blimp, but it’s not. It’s the US Army’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle. It’s not just a blimp. It’s a seven-story, football-field-length, bullet-proof blimp made of Kevlar. Get a good look, because you paid $297 million for it, and it flew exactly once, for 90 minutes, and then we sold itback to one of the companies that built it for $301,000.

It was designed for Afghanistan, a country it never got closer too than Rush Limbaugh got to Vietnam. Its guts were designed by Northrop Grumman, like Limbaugh’s, but it was put together – like all these projects are – by subcontractors in 18 states and, touchingly, in England. Because when you’re invading Afghanistan by blimp, your good luck charm is Kipling.

Anyway, we cancelled it after one test flight, at Lakehurst Naval Air Station, where the Hindenburg exploded in 1937. (If at first you don’t succeed…) And we’re taking a $296,700,000 bath on the project, but that’s okay because according to Army spokesman John Cummings: "We learned quite a bit from the technology." Yes, the technology for making balloons that float.

So kiss the Army’s bullet-proof blimp good-bye. What’s $300 million between friends? It will join the spy blimp the Air Force built for Afghanistan, which cost $211 million, and was never used anywhere for anything, and was cancelled in February. I’ll bet we learned quite a bit from its technology too.