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By: David Deschesne*


Fort Fairfield Journal    October 7, 2009, p. 1

005.JPG (344625 bytes)LIMESTONE— The 200+ foot-long blimp currently flying at the former Loring Air Force Base is a prototype of a system that may eventually be used to spy on the American citizenry.  The Loring project is called SKYBUS and is an R&D project undertaken jointly by Telford Aviation, from Bangor, Maine and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), headquartered in McLean, Virginia.

“The main purpose is to develop an unmanned, remotely piloted airship that can be used in a variety of commercial and defense applications,” Bob Ziegelaar, Senior Projects Manager for Telford Aviation told the Fort Fairfield Journal.

“As such it is essentially a ‘truck’ that can be used or adapted to carry various payloads, ranging from cell phone relays, to search cameras, radar, etc.”

According to their website,; “New developments in systems and projects for low- and high-altitude surveillance are receiving increased support from government sources and private enterprise. Emphasis is on unmanned systems, specifically airships and tethered aerostats. As such The Telford Group has developed expertise in the operation, maintenance, engineering, development and support of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), ranging from dirigibles to helicopters.”

The blimp currently being tested at Loring is not to be confused with Lockheed Martin's High Altitude Airship (HAA), which is an un-tethered, unmanned lighter-than-air vehicle, that, according to Lockheed Martin's website; “will operate above the jet stream in a geostationary position to deliver persistent station keeping as a surveillance platform, telecommunications relay, or a weather observer. The HAA also provides the Warfighter affordable, ever-present Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and rapid communications connectivity over the entire battle space. The technology is available now and ready for integration and flight test.” The High Altitude Airships are being designed to stay in stationary orbits miles above the ground in order to spy on Americans and may also be used as weapons platforms that can zero in on GPS coordinates of dissenters' homes as recently collected by the U.S. Bureau of Census.

While not admitting to actively surveilling the area, Telford's partner, SAIC is heavily in bed with government surveillance. A few years ago, SAIC built and sold the Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS) to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which is used to “X-ray” (actually gamma radiation) trucks and cargo at the U.S. ports of entry, among other places.

According to SAIC's website, ; “SAIC's national security efforts reach across all branches of the military and support the full spectrum of military operations – from peace keeping and humanitarian missions to major conflicts. SAIC also helps the U.S. Department of Defense, the FBI, and other agencies combat terrorism, cybercrime, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Whether helping the U.S. Army develop systems to enhance night vision capabilities, helping the Air Force train far-flung units worldwide via the Internet, or helping the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command achieve seamless, secure multimedia connectivity for Navy ship and shore communications, SAIC's technical expertise enables U.S. forces to be safer and smarter.”

SAIC also develops products and applied technologies which aid in anti-terrorism and Homeland Security efforts. “Our anti-terrorism products range from vehicle and cargo inspection systems for contraband detection, portable X-ray inspection systems to inspect suspect packages for explosives, to software that assesses the consequences of technological and natural disasters to population, resources and infrastructure,” their website says.

Ziegelaar says the prototype currently flying at Loring carries only simulated payloads of varying weights, such as lead. “It has no capability for ‘spying’ at this point but may be used for border monitoring in a future demonstration project,” he said. “There are no current clients but there is significant interest in this project in the aviation industry, including from parties looking to lift heavy loads over short distances such as windmill blades, etc. That would require far larger airships than the current prototype but the technology developed so far would be easily transferable.”

Other hardware that may be installed by DHS on these blimps are ground penetrating radar, radio eavesdropping equipment, medium range Silent Subliminal Presentation Systems for mass subliminal programming of the citizenry and X-ray backscatter scanners to covertly look through the walls and roofs of people's homes. X-ray backscatter scanners have been designed by American Science & Engineering, from Billerica, Massachusetts, for law enforcement and are currently used to scan moving vehicles or people's homes via their mobile, truck mounted systems. In the future, X-ray backscatter devices may be adapted for use on low-altitude blimps such as the prototype currently being tested at Loring.

*editor's note:  Due to an error in copying and pasting, some websites list a "Sayed Salahuddin" as the author of this article.  That is incorrect.  There is nobody by that name at Fort Fairfield Journal.  The correct name in the by line is as noted above: David Deschesne, Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal.