Army in new bid to get its airship flying

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Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by PeteC » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:03 am

We talked about this a lot in 2009, along with photos when it flew over my house. If they keep it up it may ultimately cost as much as a space shuttle, all for the purpose of saving face for the idiots who bought it in the first place. :banghead: Pete :cheers:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/3 ... hip-flying

Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Published: 27/09/2012 at 03:44 AM
Newspaper section: News

The army has agreed to pay 50 million baht more to an American airship producer to make its 350-million-baht airship fly for the first time since its procurement.

An army source said the army signed a contract with Aria International Inc on Sept 20 to make the surveillance airship stay up in the air.

The company was originally hired to provide the airship, which has not flown since its arrival in the country.

Army chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha ordered the contract because he does not want the airship to rest in its hangar in Pattani province any longer.

The contractor is confident it can make the airship fly by November.

The airship has been unable to fly since its delivery about two years ago. The army formally accepted the airship in July last year. Since then it has had to pay for its maintenance.

The army has paid 200,000-300,000 baht a month to refill the airship with helium, to help the airship keep its shape and avoid leaks. The army has paid about 25 million baht altogether for refills in the past year.

The airship was ordered during the tenure of former army chief Anupong Paochinda who hoped it would help deter threats in the three southern border provinces. However, it was criticised for being unsuitable for security missions in the far South, as it could be shot down with ease.

Poor storage caused multiple leaks, and the supplier repaired it once. The cameras of the airship and their video streaming system are also out of order.
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by MrPlum » Thu Sep 27, 2012 8:10 am

Jaw-dropping.

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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by brianks » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:06 am

Sad to spend that kind of money for a white elephant that can't do anything. All to safe face for some Generals. Its only the peoples money so who cares?

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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by Spitfire » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:18 am

The army here is in a class all of it's own when it comes to wasting and splashing out money.

What does the Thai army need a blimp for anyway? :?

Maybe they could use it on the Burmese border in anti-narcotics operations. It reminds me of what a US military exchange officer that was stationed here for a while said to me....

"They bought some AMRAAM missiles even though they don't have a way to launch them yet but it's OK to do a press release to say they have them and look good."
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by PeteC » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:32 am

This folly is right up there with the few hundred million they spent on the Toys R Us bomb detectors. There are generals here who still insist that they work and are still using them even after the UK and other country's investigations found them to be a complete fraud. I think the manufacturer is under prosecution in the UK as well.

Weapons contractors and military buyers are in a secret world all of their own. Any oversight committee only gets into the act months or years after the money is spent. The west is not exempt. My country has plenty of $20,000 toilet seats and $2,000 screwdrivers in use. :roll: Pete :cheers:
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by Nereus » Thu Sep 27, 2012 9:50 am

Why is it being reported that this thing has never flown? Just bad reporting, or more "saving face"?
The fact is that none of the military branches, least of all the army, have pilots that CAN FLY the contraption! It is much easier to blame the manufacturer than their own shortcomings. :guns:
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by advocate » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:23 pm

You could probably shoot this thing down with a .22 caliber rifle meant for squirrels. I sure wouldn't want to be posted on it when some fool decides to sneak a cigarette. Memories of the Hindenburg come to mind.

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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by Terry » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:33 pm

Fortunately the thing is filled with helium - so it wont blow up..................

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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by advocate » Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:58 pm

I'd rather go to war riding an elephant or flying a biplane. The odds of survival would be higher.

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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by PeteC » Fri Dec 14, 2012 5:55 am

Probably the best final solution....if it's insured. :roll: Pete :cheers:

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/nationa ... 96101.html

Airship crash hurts four
The Nation December 14, 2012 1:00 am

The Royal Thai Army's airship crashed yesterday while providing surveillance for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's visit to Pattani, falling from an altitude of 15 metres.

Four crewmembers suffered minor injuries as they jumped from the aircraft before it hit the ground. The incident took place at around 3pm in a Pattani military camp as the airship was coming in for a landing.

As much as 50 per cent of the airship's body was damaged, a military spokesperson said. However, journalists and outsiders were prohibited from entering the crash site. The Fourth Army Region, which operates the airship, issued no comments.

Costing Bt350 million, the controversial airship was purchased around three years ago by the Army's then-chief Anupong Paochinda to provide surveillance in the South. Plagued with technical problems, the airship could not fly at a satisfactory altitude and was deemed too vulnerable for military operations.

Kept in a hangar in Pattani, it has flown only recently, making a surveillance flight last month during the Loy Krathong festival.

Around Bt25 million has been spent on upkeep and improvements to the airship, an A-40D Sky Dragon manufactured by the Worldwide Aeros Corporation. For a time, the airship was kept deflated, which caused leaks to develop. So Bt300,000 a month has been required to keep it filled with helium to prevent further leaks.
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by margaretcarnes » Fri Dec 14, 2012 6:17 am

There was some discussion on my local radio here in the UK yesterday about banning helium - so I hope they get a move on!
I really didn't catch all of the discussion though. It could be just a UK thing at the moment, but it's certainly not 'going down' well with the Party shops!
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by Bristolian » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:06 am

margaretcarnes wrote:There was some discussion on my local radio here in the UK yesterday about banning helium - so I hope they get a move on!
I really didn't catch all of the discussion though. It could be just a UK thing at the moment, but it's certainly not 'going down' well with the Party shops!

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/short ... m-balloons

Should we ban helium balloons?

No Christmas party is complete without them. But helium has vital medical uses – and there's only a limited amount left
If Christmas feels a bit flat this year, perhaps we should be blaming Peter Wothers. The Cambridge University chemist is calling for a ban on helium balloons, claiming we should not be wasting such a precious gas on the party decorations.
Not even the joy to be had in inhaling the gas to make our voices sound squeaky is enough to deflate the scientist's objections – he insists our limited resources should be used for other admittedly more pressing functions of cooling magnets in MRI scanners, or helping newborn babies to breathe.

Wothers will be calling for an end to helium balloons when he gives the Royal Institution's Christmas lecture this year, calling the scarcity "a really serious issue". "I can imagine that in 50 years' time our children will be saying: 'I can't believe they used such a precious material to fill balloons,'" he says.

And he's not alone – other scientists have warned that helium is becoming so scarce that research that makes use of its cooling power may have to be limited or stopped. Although it is the second most abundant element in the universe, helium cannot be manufactured, and once released into the atmosphere is lost for ever. Most of our supplies are extracted from the earth's crust in the US. In the 1920s the country started stockpiling helium, before eventually selling this off in the 1990s, causing prices to plummet.

Now prices are on the rise again – but Professor Robert Richardson, of Cornell University, New York, who won the Nobel physics prize in 1996 for his research on helium, argues that a helium party balloon should cost £75, to more accurately reflect the true scarcity value of the gas.

The Balloon Association, however, is still fighting for the right to supply party balloons. They argue the impure helium gas used for balloons is not the same as the liquid helium used for the MRI market, and is a byproduct of supplying liquid helium. As demand for the gas increases, it will become more worthwhile for companies to start extracting it, they say. What's more, they argue, balloons don't take up that much of the available supply. "A reasonable estimate is that latex 'party' balloons and their foil equivalent account for between 5% and 7% of the total helium usage."
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by MrPlum » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:51 am

prcscct wrote:Costing Bt350 million, the controversial airship was purchased around three years ago by the Army's then-chief Anupong Paochinda to provide surveillance in the South.
If they have this much trouble with a blimp, I can't imagine Predator drones will ever be deployed.

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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by Nereus » Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:37 pm

These idiots are unbelievable! This aircraft is not some one off Chinese made kids toy, they are operated successfully in other parts of the world, albeit by qualified aircrew.
What is the point of having a "surveillance" aircraft, when the terrorists that they are trying to observe can see them coming from miles away? :banghead:
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Blimp repairs to cost B30m

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/local/3 ... -cost-b30m

The army will spend at least 30 million baht to repair its troubled blimp which crash-landed in Pattani province on Thursday while on duty.

The army inspected the surveillance blimp after the accident and estimated the damage at around 30 million baht.

Army Chief Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha on Friday ordered the repair and said the army had no plan to ground the aircraft.

The 350-million baht surveillance blimp has been used to patrol the skies in the southern border provinces to aid security authorities to fight insurgents. It was used during Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's visit to the region on Thursday, when it crash-landed at 4pm at the Bor Thong air base in Nong Chik district of Pattani.

Earlier reports said two military pilots and two technicians who were on board when the airship crashed escaped with minor injuries.

But an army source confirmed on Friday that three pilots were on board during the accident and all were safe.

The inspection revealed that the blimp's propeller, motor, and gondola (passenger cabin area) would have to be repaired at the cost between 20 milliona and 30 million baht, the source said. The envelope fabric has to be replaced at the cost of 15 million baht, the source said.

The blimp's insurance was said to have expired, said the source, adding that the accident damaged more than 50% of the airship.

The source said many military officials have argued that the airship should no longer be used because of high maintenance and repair costs.

The army will have to pay at least 50 million baht a year for its maintenance, according to the maintenance contract with Aeros, a US blimp manufacture and repair company. The airship also requires helium fuel that costs an estimated 2.52 million baht per flight.

The army tried to downplay the accident, insisting the blimp did not crash-land.

Deputy army spokesman Col Winthai Suwaree said that the airship was forced to perform an emergency landing because the crew noticed turbulence after the airship rose to around 20 metres.

"We confirmed that the airship did not crash-land because of an accident during a mission. The blimp had to perform an emergency landing because of turbulence," he said.

The army purchased the surveillance airship in 2010 when Gen Anupong Paojinda was the army chief, amid criticism it was yet another waste of taxpayers' money.
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Re: Army in new bid to get its airship flying

Post by Frank Hovis » Fri Dec 14, 2012 8:55 pm

The blimp had to perform an emergency landing because of turbulence
It just wasn't a very good emergency landing perhaps ?

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