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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
June 14, 2012
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Publication Date: 
April 29, 1958
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Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642AO01300040020-1 CONFIDENTIAL 29 April 1958 1 *)RANIU4 FOR : Assistant Chief /MS /Research and Development SET : Technical Considerations Considered Applicable to a Proposed Powered Lighter-Than-Air Vehicle for Intelligence Gathering Perms 1. 7b* extensive use of balloons in several broad scientific fields has substantially advanced the state of the art in light veight plastic balloon fabric. The use of balloons as intelli oce collecting vehicles such as the Air Farce project Gk'TRIX and for other purposes in the in- teelligeance fields such as personnel, infiltration and leaflet dissemination has focused attention on this type vehicle for intelligewe purposes. one of the principle contractors in the balloon research and development acti- vity has for some time expressed a view that balloon tsc*malogy is suffi- ciently advanced to utilize power with balloons to give some amour* of control to fliabts that are now subject to vagueries of meteorological conditions;. It is the intent of the attacbmeat to this meworardum to outline same technical considerations believed to be pertinent to the utilization of a high altitude powered balloon for intelligence we and to recommend possible co n'ees of action. It away be pertinent to point out that the previom Air Force project that utilized the free balloon for the collection of photo intelligence resulted in so such adverse propaganda that "balloons" became a dirty word to puny intelligence people. It is hoped that a balloon that is at least p rtlelly controlled will overcome the principle reason for the lack of operational, reliability encountered with the balloons in this Air Force type of project and it is believed that a reliable intelligence vehicle can be developed. Chief TSfi/Engineering Division DD/P/TSS /E,' ~. Mt DDC iLO REV DATE S-Q-BYIL12 I JUST 1.~- ItfXT REV Q-- AUTH: HA 71-2 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642AO01300040020-1 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642A001300040020-1 CONFIDENTIAL TBCU LAICAL CO NS 3 DE AT IOE FOR A HIGH ALTITUDE 1. It is the intent of this paper to discuss briefly the possible applications of a high altitude powered vehicle to intelligence work and to outline some of the technical considerations that are believed to apply. Altitudes as high as 100,000 feet above mean sea level, payloads of at least 100 pounds, speeds up to at least 25 knots, and a range of 800 nautical miles are all believed to be possible. The vehicle would be a shaped polyethylene balloon driven by propellers and powered at high altitude by electric motors with a storage battery power supply. Such a vehicle could hold its position over a point without violating a border and obtain line of eight information up to about 400 miles inside the border. It could also use power to fly a prescribed course of fairly short to medium range inside the border and out again at altitudes approaching 100,000 feet. Long range overflights may be possible with a vehicle that is generally the same as the one described but is de- signed to float unpowered at high altitude during the daytime and to descend to about 10,000 feet at night and fly power on at this altitude. High winds at 00,000 feet would provide for an extended range capability and conventional aircraft power could be utilized at this low altitude that could allow for higher speeds and greater angular corrections of course. Guidance system may be utilized that would direct this vehicle to a preassigned intelligence target, possibly anywhere in the Soviet Union. 2. Extensive work with polyethylene as a balloon material has re- suited in greatly increased balloon technology. A shaped captive balloon has already been mode of this material and successfully used to carry in- strumentation in atomic bout tests in Nevada. To apply power to such a vehicle requires that the envelope be pressurized so that its shape is maintained and it is this feature that is considered one of the most severe development problem. The pressure requirement is B=ell, however, about .01" of water for a 25 knot air speed at 90,000 feet. A large free balloon is subject to almost this much internal pressure around the region of the top of the balloon. Air breathing engines such as the jet engine for power are tentatively ruled out at altitudes as high as 90,000 feet. Although some possibility may exist for their utilization, the high exit velocity of the gas compared with the low forward speed of the vehicle would result in extremely poor efficiencies and fuel requirements would be expected to be prohibitive. The storage battery exists that has the necessary power, about four horse power would be needed to drive the vehicle. Silver cell batteries can produce 50 watt hours per pound and a power pack of these batteries could power the vehicle. Solar batteries are not considered in view of this rather high power requirement. The propeller is considered as the propulsive force. A propeller disc area LDeclassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642A001300040020-1 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642AO01300040020-1 CONFIDENTIAL of about 100? square feet would be needed. Two propellers m1 t be used and they would probably also be utilized for directional control. 3. A vehicle of this type is believed to have several advantages over existing aircraft for intelligence purposes at least for some applications. It is assumed bare that very high performance aircraft of the most recent types can be utilized for intelligence gathering missions at altitudes in excess of that proposed for this vehicle sad at very high speeds. It is supposed., however, that such aircraft can bring a target under surveillance for only a brief period of tiaras. The own would be true if a reconnaissance satellite were united, s in the latter case, the target area would be alerted well in advance of the time it would be under surveillance. To any of the three applications outlined in paragraph one above, a target might be surveilled for a period of time measured in days. Since the lighter-than-air vehicle can float power off, it provides an fly stable vibrattonless platform for aerial photogra" or electronic equipment. 4. The lighter-than-air vehicle, powered or not, east depend upon favorable wide aloft to a certain extent for sncessful operations. Of course most aerial photo missions are weather dependent anyway but the operational meteorological requirements of this vehicle not be con- sidered more strict. The application of power allows for a greater freedom of choice of weather conditions than the free balloon and it allows for positive control and enhances the prospects of recovery of the equipment carried. Because of the weight to bores power ratio of available battery sources, the rams and speed of the proposed craft is limrited. Probably at a 25 knot air speed the range would be limited to 200 miles neglecting wired effects. At 10 knot speeds it would probably fly 800 stiles. The vehicle would be hard to sea with the uxraided eye but it oast be assumed that it could be seen and Ito- graphed during daylight hours with a telephoto lams. Cony utional],y powered jet aircraft have already flown to altitudes in excess of 70,OOD feet and might some day be capable of shooting darts the pe sed balloon. aipment carried on a baLlam that amt be oriented directionally poses pzroblesmrs when narrow tolerances are required. 5. If direct overflights of extended rarer can be considered a vari- ation of the powered balloon described above is believed possible. A powered balloon could be made to float free at ceiling altitude at or near a 100,000 fact during the d yligbt hours and then deaec end to 40,000 feet at night. At this altitude it would utilize the naval high winds to ex- tend its range and it could utilize power to mace angular corrections in its.eom!ea. It may be possible to provide a guidance system that would direct it to a predetermined target. This powered balloon would be launched in a slack condition and would not be full until reaching ceiling altitude much the same as balloons that are now in use. Sun- set would result in heat lose of the lifting gas that would cue the vehicle to descend and a ballonet system would control the altitude at Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642AO01300040020-1 Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642A001300040020-1 -r ~.,. - CONFIDENTIAL 4O,OOO feet. Con ventioual power systems can be utilized at this alti- tude and speeds higher than 25 knots are probable. aircraft. submitted an unsolicited proposal to that 25X1 offers to ire easibility of the basic idea by asking at least two powered flights at 65,004 feet at a cost of $150,000 covering a period of one year. altitude far less than that of alaset any high It is obvious that such a vehicle has the disadvantage of being quite vulnerable to attack by aircraft during its low level flight and it is expected that political considerations would weigh heavily in authorizing such an overflight. However, anticipating successful de- velopment, this vehicle would bring vide areas and selected points a1 et anywhere in the Soviet Union under direct surveillance for ex- tended periods of time. Although it could be seen it would be fly difficult to see. It could be detected by radar but would present a poor radar target at best. It is assumed that a cover story could be established to account for its preserves and steps taken to insure that, should it be shot down, it would not be recovered intact. Guidance and intelligence gathering equipment could be automatically released to free-fall to the ground once an altitude lover than that programmed had been prematurely reached. 6. It is estimated that the cost of development of a powered high 7. It is recommended that if any of the possible applications described above are considered to offer a useful approach to the general field of intelligence from aerial reconnaissance the following steps be considered: (a) A paper study be made using actial desired air racormissance targets, utilising whatever upper air wind data is available for the target area, to determine the necessary paz is :nee character- istics of the vehicle (b) A proposal be solicited for the development of such a vehicle placing as much emphasis as possible on the requirements generated by a specific intelligence gathering mission. Declassified in Part - Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/06/14: CIA-RDP78-03642A001300040020-1