8 a.m., Oct. 25, 2012
Updated 8:27 a.m.
The General Accountability Office says in a new study that efforts by the Defense Department to develop airships and aerostats for intelligence gathering and reconnaissance are faring poorly due to a variety of technical and design problems, which is delaying schedules and making the ships more expensive.
GAO also says that the Defense Department hasn’t done enough to coordinate the various research programs, which has led to oversight problems and duplication.
“Three of the four aerostat and airship efforts under development, plus another airship development effort that was terminated in June 2012, have suffered from high acquisition risks because of significant technical challenges, such as overweight components, and difficulties with integration and software development,” the GAO report says.
The military — notably, the Army and the Navy — have expressed hope that relatively inexpensive airships could greatly expand its intelligence gathering capability, along with aerostats, which are tethered to the ground.
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