on Airship Design & Development (PADD)
PADD aims at developing airship technology in India for
various scientific and commercial applications.
PADD is a national R&D project, launched at the Indian
Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) in 2001, with team
members drawn from various national aerospace organizations,
central government and faculty members from IITB.
airship that can counter cross-border terrorism
by Imran Qureshi, Indo-Asian News Service
Hindustan Times, Bangalore, 17 July 2003
An American company is seeking India's cooperation in building
the prototype of an airship that can combat cross-border terrorism
and change the face of telecommunications and healthcare in
StratCom, a firm headed by Lt Gen James Abrahamson, the first
director of the US "Star Wars" programme, is seeking
India's partnership in the stratospheric airship project for
its expertise in vehicle design, payloads and control systems.
"India can demonstrate its leadership by partnering
this programme. It has the right mixture of talent and the
challenges it has faced," Abrahamson told a news conference
in Bangalore on Thursday.
Asked if such an airship could help monitor the movement
of people across borders like the one between India and Pakistan,
he said, "It can be used for border patrol for homeland
Abrahamson said he was in India to speak to scientists "who
can manage these partnerships".
"I am very optimistic. India is a potential market but
it has organisations like the Indian Space Research Organisation
or the Defence Research and Development Organisation with
specialisation in several payload areas," he noted.
Stratospheric airships are unmanned, solar-powered aircraft
designed to fly at altitudes of up to 20 km or over 65,000
feet. The airships, which are 600 feet in length and 180 feet
in diameter, can carry payloads ranging from 900 kg to 5,440
Airships can be positioned over a single point on the earth's
surface and have defence and civil applications.
"They will offer reliable transmission and help in disaster
management, mobile data communication in remote and rural
areas as well as telemedicine or healthcare," Abrahamson
A fleet of four to six airships can provide coverage of key
regions of India and strategic areas in South Asia.
"We can get the cost well below $20 million. And once
we clear the learning curve, the cost could come down to $15
million," Abrahamson said.
Civil applications could cover wireless communication for
mobile phone users, fixed local loop wireless communications
to fixed homes or businesses and interactive television and
interactive radio broadcasts.
Military payloads could include weapons, very high resolution
multi-spectral cameras for observing ground, airborne or space
targets, radars for ground imaging or aeronautical or space
target tracking, and space-to-satellite relay for long haul
The airships could have ballistic missile defence sensors
or interceptor platforms as well as remote air traffic control
systems that combined radar and communication platforms.
The programme funded by the US defence department is expected
to produce its first prototype by end 2005 or early 2006.
Ramchand, an associate with the think-tank National Institute
of Advanced Studies, said, "Lots of sensors could be
put (on the airship) to monitor cross-border movement or for
telemedicine. The programme is complementary and supplementary
to what India is doing. The US will also benefit, more than
Ramchand was the former director of the Centre for Air Borne
markets airships to India
by Habib Beary, Bangalore
BBC News, 17 July 2003
A US-based aerospace company has begun preliminary talks
with Indian scientists to collaborate on an airship project
designed for civil and military use.
Indian defence officials say it could be used for effective
surveillance of the borders it shares with Pakistan and China.
Lieutenant General James Abrahamson, chairman of StratCom
International and former director of the Star Wars programme
initiated during the Reagan administration, is in talks with
officials of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)
and the Indian Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO).
Mr Abrahamson said India, with its technical and software
expertise, could play a vital role in developing telecommunication
systems, telemedicine, broadband communications and disaster
Called stratospheric airships, the first airship prototype
is being built with the support of the US defence department.
The unmanned airships powered by solar energy can carry radar
sensors as well as the latest communications devices.
The US defence department has invested $100m in the project.
Each airship will cost about $20m and has an operating life
of five years.
"These airships are ideal for a country like India where
the large geographies demand more complex infrastructure,"
said Mr Abrahamson.
military firm offers India stratospheric airships, eyes partners
SpaceWar.com, Bangalore, India (AFP), 17 July 2003
A US-based firm headed by the former director of the US Strategic
Defence Initiative "Star Wars" programme offered
India its stratospheric airships Thursday and said it was
James Abrahamson, chairman of StratCom International LLC,
said Indian state-run and private companies could collaborate
for specific research and development programmes to apply
to the new airships.
"India is potentially a terrific market," said
Abrahamson. "And we are looking for partnerships which
can be for building specific applications and also on the
Stratospheric airships are unmanned, autonomous solar-powered
airships designed to fly at approximately 19,700 meters (65,000
feet) and to carry payloads ranging from 909 to 1,180 kilograms
(2,000 to 7,000 pounds).
The airships, measuring 150 to 180 metres long and about
55 metres in diameter can be used for both civil and military
"These airships will offer reliable transmission and
help in disaster management, mobile data communication in
remote and rural areas and telemedicine," Abrahamson
told reporters in the southern IT hub of Bangalore.
"Stratospheric airships are extremely cost-effective
and offer a range of benefits compared to any other satellite
either for civil or defence applications," he said.
He said the airships, at a cost of about 20 million dollars
each, were well-suited for a large country like India.
Civil applications include wireless communications and interactive
television and radio broadcasts, while military payloads may
carry very high resolution multi-spectral cameras for observing
ground, airborne or space targets.
The US defence department has already pumped about 100 million
dollars into the project and the first prototype will be ready
by late 2005 or early 2006.
The airship will be designed to hover over a single point
on the surface of the earth, autonomously navigating to counter
winds, and will be able to navigate over long distances or
on a combat patrol.
StratCom, a unit of the Delaware company, was formed to investigate
and develop the benefits of stratospheric airships for military
purposes and civil telecommunication applications.
The firm has an exclusive arrangement with Lockheed Martin
Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems, under which the
high altitude airship programme for defence has been in development
launches ambitious airship project
by Ayanjit Sen, BBC, Delhi
BBC News, 7 January 2002
"India's premier engineering institute has launched an ambitious
project to develop the country's first airship.
It would be possible to fly from one part of India to another
in a helium-based vessel if the programme being developed
by the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay is successful.
Millions of dollars are being invested in the project which
aims to revolutionise transport industry in the country.
The project is being funded by an independent body - Technology,
Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC).
Airships are airborne vehicles driven by engines which also
control the vehicle in adverse weather conditions.
The first prototype airship is expected to be developed in
Earlier designs used hydrogen but modern airships use inert
helium for staying airborne.
Helium is not flammable.
The final prototype airship would be able to fly at 15,000
feet and would be able to carry up to two tons of weight,
Dr Pant said.
He said this would be an advanced model as airships elsewhere
could not fly over 7,000 feet.
The project would also explore other possible uses of airships
including commercial operations in India.
Dr Pant said airships could be used for advertising, aerial
photography and wildlife tracking.
They could also be used for traffic monitoring, aerial surveillance
and for relief work during natural calamities, he said.
Experts say airships can prove useful in India in carrying
passengers in the absence of good surface transport systems.
Dr Pant said an airship with a capacity of carrying up to
12 passengers could cost more than $6m.
He said there were plans to lease some airships from other
countries to increase public awareness in India."
to be resurrected
The Hindu: India's National Newspaper, 10 June 2001
NEW DELHI, JUNE 9, 2001. A group of Indian scientists have
joined an international effort to resurrect airships, which
were an important form of transportation of men and material
during World War II, but which went into disuse following
a major mishap.
With the end of the Cold War, the main aim of the effort
is to use it for passenger and freight movement in difficult
terrains like hilly areas, which are prone to landslips, for
lifting men and material during earthquakes, floods and other
natural disasters and for urban management like riot control.
According to the scientists working on the project, which
is sponsored by the Ministry of Science and Technology's Technology
Information, Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), the
complete design for the airship would be ready by the end
of this year and the first prototype could roll out by 2004.
Commercial flights could commence three years later.
Mr. Y.S.Rajan, Executive Director, TIFAC, and one of the
main person behind the project, said the modern airships would
be far safer than those used in the World War II times, considering
the rapid advances that have taken place in the areas of guidance
systems and avionics in recent years.
They would also be sleeker and carry more weight as newer
materials are now available in the wake of developments in
the area of composite materials.
Mr. Rajan, who is also technical secretary to Mr. A.P.J.
Abdul Kalam, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government,
told The Hindu that the airships would also be a cheaper mode
of transport compared to the conventional aircraft and helicopters,
and at the same time be a more viable alternative, as they
would be able to take off and land vertically and thus would
not need laying of runways or airstrips. Several airlines
have already shown interest in the project, he added.
A group of scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology,
Mumbai, have been designated as the nodal agency for the project
and they are working in collaboration with scientists teams
across the country and several industries specialising in
composite materials, avionics and other such high tech areas.
The Indian scientists are also in close touch with their
counterparts in the U.S., Russia, and Germany, where similar
efforts were on to ensure constant sharing of expertise.