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Blimps and radar

  1. Aug 17, 2012 #1
    Do blimps show up on radar? And if so, could somebody explain why? Is it the material they are made from (mylar/nylon)? Is it that their low density somehow gives an odd reflection?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 17, 2012 #2


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    Kindly indulge my answering a different question. :tongue: Yachts don't show up very well on radar so they often carry a many-sided 3D metal reflector on the mast, ensuring they'll show up clearly on the radar of other vessels and maritime services. That radar reflector is hollow and about the size of a bucket.

    What's the bet that blimps are similarly equipped? :smile:
  4. Aug 17, 2012 #3
    Ah yes I have seen those devices, I assume you mean something like this:

    Although blimps are probably equipped with these things, I am more interested in the blimp itself showing up on radar. Really, I'd like to know if it is easier to make a blimp invisible to radar than say a plane.
  5. Aug 17, 2012 #4


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    yes, like those :)

    would also depend on what else on the blimp was made of metal.... the cockpit, passenger area, the engines etc....
    There's sure to be some reflections, but they wouldnt really give a good indication of the full size.

    On another thought train tho .....
    rain ... which is of course not metallic, reflects radar quiet easily. Us amateur radio operators use a number of microwave radio frequencies to do what is called rainscatter communications.
    One wonders if a rain wet blimp would reflect radar easier/more efficiently than a dry one ?

  6. Aug 17, 2012 #5
    Let's say it was an unmanned aerial vehicle, I can imagine the props being metal, the batteries being dense but apart from that nothing metal that could reflect its true size (other than the envelope, if that does indeed reflect radar). The electronics/cockpit, passenger area can all be ignored in this case.

    I would imagine so, however would it be possible to spot the rain wet blimps radar reflection if it was also raining all around the blimp? Wouldn't the signal be hidden by the rain noise?
  7. Aug 17, 2012 #6


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    Airships (blimps) can be nearly invisible to radar if they are constructed out of certain materials:
    “Airships can be constructed entirely out of materials that do not reflect radar, not just portions of the airframe like airplanes. The size of the airship allows these same materials to be shaped into planes and reflecting surfaces that are many times more effective than can be employed in an airplanes' small wing or fuselage area. Thus, the airship has even greater ability to avoid reflecting radar back to emitter, despite the increased size of the airship.”

    For a general discussion of radar “signatures” of a variety of objects see:

    For a discussion of weather radar, including the detection of rain see:
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