Navy's modern airship receives historical identification

Oct 27, 2011
A modified American Blimp Corporation A-170 series commercial blimp, the MZ-3A boasts a proud heritage and now serves as the only manned airship in the United States Navy's inventory. Credit: Naval Research Laboratory

Unveiled at a ceremonious ribbon-cutting event, Oct. 26 at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey, NAWCAD and the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, reveal the MZ-3A airship now adorned with the insignia of Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1) and the banner of the U.S. Navy.

"It's been nearly 50 years since the last U.S. Navy Lighter-Than-Air platform cruised the skies over the New Jersey coastline," said CDR Jay Steingold, Commanding Officer, VXS-1. "Today, the MZ-3A joins the ranks of her predecessors by sporting the emblems of the United States Navy, marking an important milestone in the history of naval airships."

After 47 years, the U.S. Navy effectively terminated Lighter-Than-Air (LTA) operations, August 31, 1962, with the final flight of a ZPG-2 airship at Naval Air Station Lakehurst. Emblazoned with red, white and blue stripes on her rudders acknowledging the Navy's Centennial of Flight and earliest days of Navy airship operations, the MZ-3A boasts a proud heritage and now serves as the only manned airship in the United States Navy's inventory.

Built by American Blimp Corporation, the MZ-3A is propeller-driven by two 180 horsepower Lycoming engines producing a top speed just under 50 knots with an operational payload capability of up to 2,500 pounds.

The manned 178-foot LTA craft can remain aloft and nearly stationary for more than twelve hours, performing various missions in support of technology development for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) concepts.

"Airships offer extreme utility in C4ISR roles and patrol missions where persistent stare and reliable communications are often more important than speed," said Bert Race, MZ-3A Government Flight Representative and Project Manager. "Our MZ-3A has proven that an airship is a very effective platform for mission system research and development."

The MZ-3A is government-owned and contractor-operated. The contractor, Integrated Systems Solutions, Inc., employs highly qualified commercial blimp pilots whom the Navy has approved to command the airship.

Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), stationed at the Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Md., is the U.S. Navy's sole Science & Technology research squadron. Commissioned, December 2004, VXS-1 employs NP-3D Orions, RC-12 Guardrails, Scan Eagle UAS, and most recently, the MZ-3A in its support of NRL-priority airborne research efforts. Since its transfer to VXS-1 in 2009, the MZ-3A has accumulated more than 1,000 mishap-free flight hours in support of the Naval Research Enterprise and recently provided assistance during the tragic Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill in 2010.

Explore further: Tidal forces gave moon its shape, according to new analysis

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Blimp gets big screen

May 03, 2006

The Lightship Group, a subsidiary of American Blimp Corporation, unveiled its new A-170 Video Lightsign airship in hopes of rejuvenating the blimp industry.

NRL's XFC UAS achieves flight endurance milestone

Aug 06, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) has completed a successful flight test of the fuel cell powered XFC (eXperimental Fuel Cell) unmanned aerial system (UAS). During the June 2 flight test, ...

ONR-guided tech tracks what's inside ships

Apr 01, 2010

The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is funding emerging technology that will allow wireless surveillance not only of ships and aircraft, but also the tracking of people and high value assets inside the ships.

Recommended for you

Exploring Mars in low Earth orbit

3 hours ago

In their quest to understand life's potential beyond Earth, astrobiologists study how organisms might survive in numerous environments, from the surface of Mars to the ice-covered oceans of Jupiter's moon, ...

Lifetime of gravity measurements heralds new beginning

6 hours ago

Although ESA's GOCE satellite is no more, all of the measurements it gathered during its life skirting the fringes our atmosphere, including the very last as it drifted slowly back to Earth, have been drawn ...

NASA's IceCube no longer on ice

9 hours ago

NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) has chosen a team at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, to build its first Earth science-related CubeSat mission.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Skyship
not rated yet Oct 28, 2011
Hi Folks,
Good to see there is now a USN logo on their blimp. It would be good to see the US Navy take airships more seriously, as their present one is an old Lightship blimp, whereas the US Army has a new hybrid air vehicle and the US Air Force the Blue Devil blimp.
If you like airships try my new Gasbags site:
3w dot airship dot me which is the worlds only lighter than air comedy web site.
Regards JB (Airship & Blimp Consultant)