The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), the Navy’s sole Science & Technology research squadron, announced on Thursday that it will operate the MZ-3A lighter-than-air “blimp” in the metro Atlanta region starting on Saturday. The blimp will park at Dobbins Air Reserve Base inMarietta during non-flying hours.
Operating under the special approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the Navy MZ-3A will conduct routine sensor testing.
According to NRL officials, the temperature in the southeastern region of the country during this time of the year is ideal for this operation.
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 12 hours, performing various missions in support of technology development for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) concepts.