We love that blimps and airships are making a comeback to rule the next generation’s eco-friendly skies. But whenever Lockheed Martin gets its hands on technology, we start to think about the less friendly purposes these zeppelins could be used for. Case in point, Lockheed’s new HALE-D (High Altitude Long Endurance-Demonstrator) solar-powered blimp, which is a quicker and less expensive way to get a satellite orbiting at 60,000 feet for long-term weather monitoring, missile warning or targeting, communications, and of course good old-fashioned spying.

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The cool thing about the HALE-D is that it uses its motors to get up above the jet stream and then parks in one place using those same motors to keep it in the same position above the earth’s surface. That gives the HALE-D a 600-mile view of the earth. It’s the same thing you would get from a satellite, except the HALE-D is more versatile and solar powered for long-term use without refueling. What do you think of this new generation of eco-friendly blimps? We’re hoping they have some alien cloaking device for this thing in the works as well, since it wouldn’t be too hard for a disgruntled dictator to spot and knock a big shiny blimp out of the sky. We don’t think the North Koreans will buy the government’s “hot air balloon holiday gone wrong” cover story, do you?

+ Lockheed Martin