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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s $506 million Integrated Sensor Is Structure program is developing a persistent stratospheric airship with an active-array radar built into the envelope to perform air and ground surveillance and tracking.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report cites technical challenges and rapid acquisitions of some lighter-than-air Earth 0bservation platforms as problematic.

At the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, airships looked to be the answer to demands for persistent, "staring-eye" surveillance. But problems developing the systems—including, surprisingly, the decades-old technology of building a lighter-than-air vehicle—means they are coming along just as the window of opportunity is closing.

The GAO tells a heavy tale of lighter-than-air development and procurement troubles in a new report on Pentagon aerostat and airship programs.

Concept image courtesy of Lockheed Martin.

Read the highlights of the GAO report.

Read the full 48-page GAO report: “Defense Acquisitions—Future Aerostat and Airship Investment Decisions Drive Oversight and Coordination Needs.”

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