A Stealthy, Worm-Shaped, Spying Airship. What?

Check out the latest piece of UAV spy tech that the DoD is looking at out at the giant Nevada Test Site. World Surveillance Group’s worm-like Argus One airship began flight demonstrations for the Pentagon at a Department of Energy-owned airstrip inside the mysterious test range. (It was probably at the DoE’s Yucca airstrip, a site that was recently revealed to be home to UAV ops.)

Argus One is meant to loiter for days at altitudes of 10,000 to 20,000-feet over targets while carrying 33-pounds of surveillance and communications in that little gondola that’s slung beneath the craft. Why the crazy looking design? Increased stability and maneuverability in the face of nasty winds and weather conditions.

Here’s what WSG says about the worm-blimp:

Argus One is an unmanned autonomous airship with automated control for individual body modules for improved flight stability and aerodynamic control. The design features the ability to control the rigidity between each module and the ability to pivot. The modules are operated by microcontrollers based on aerodynamic requirements. The airship’s altitude, overall response and handling characteristics and flight control utilizes a system of ballonets contained within each individual module, thereby creating a dynamically adjustable airship. The design of the Argus One differs significantly from many of the LTA rigid platforms that have been in operation for over a century.

It goes on to say that the Argus One is mean to be an “eye in the sky” that meets “certain requirements for ISR applications for U.S. military and other governmental agencies.” That “other governmental agencies” is probably a clue as to why it’s being tested at the remote Nevada facility.

The drone is being designed to beam images and other intel it collects in near real-time to ground control stations, it can also be programmed by operators to automatically fly to certain navigation points. And that weird shape, it also makes it easy to transport and operate Argus One from bare bones facilities in the middle of nowhere. Oh yeah, it’s also stealthy, according to WSG:

he Argus One has significant competitive advantages over the existing manned aircraft, heavier-than-air fixed wing UAVs, tethered aerostats and balloons, or low orbit satellite alternatives. The Argus One has a flexible, non-rigid envelope which allows for easy storage and transport to remote locations. There is no need for large hangars or airport infrastructure, as the Argus One can be assembled and tactically launched in hours from virtually anywhere, including remote, mountainous territory. The Argus One is designed to have a several day endurance capability and can stay on station with its module designed body, propulsion system and its sensor operated rigidity stabilization system, even in rough weather. The Argus One has a low radar footprint making it virtual stealth since the payload bay located on the forward module of the airship is the only radar reflecting material on the airship.

Ps. Yes, the balloon kinda looks like something else, but I’m gonna let you guys make those jokes.

  • crackedlenses

    You’ve got to be joking……

    • jiopppo

      that thing ain’t gonna blend

    • Musson

      The Taliban will just assume it’s Chinese New Year. I looks like a Chinese dragon.

      • Nick T.

        My thoughts on what this resembles are a bit more… Freudian.

      • tiger

        Year of the Maggot?

  • blight


    Hmm. They remind me of Sandworms from Dune. That said, they have several families of wormblimp.

    • X

      You see that and you think of a “sandworm from Dune”? You, sir, are a geek.

      • blight

        Shai-Huluds flying airborne cousin. Real Fremen fight on the ground though.

        • Thomas L. Nielsen

          Flying sand-worms……we’re so screwed!

          Regards & all,

          Thomas L. Nielsen

        • Guest A

          Gotta keep the spice flowing somehow…

  • Lance

    I agree with Brian this looks like some dirty joke from the USAF LOL!

    Looks too ugly though.

    • anonymous

      So where are they going to stick it to complete the dick metaphor of what military spending is doing to this country?

  • JackBlack

    Air Worm Jim?

    • tiger

      Air Worm? Would have made for a very slow 1980’s tv show. String & Dom would take a hour just to get the Air worm out the mountain hideout.

  • Looks like an obese sperm.

    It seems too simple and basic a design to appeal to the US military, quite tricky to put a missile on it.

    I wonder what price tag is attached to this simple looking wind bag.

    • jhm

      an american sperm mind you, nice and obese

  • blight

    The WSG Inc group apparently has an address in the Kennedy Space Center. Are they privatizing on us already?

  • Riles

    Thats no worm…

  • Tad

    Maybe there will be an egg-shaped airship and the two can meet and have offspring…

  • Zephyr

    Zeus!! I told you to check your condom for holes BEFOREHAND. Sheesh.

    • none

      Should’ve used a trojan

      • anonymous

        I laughed til I cried.

  • tribulationtime

    OK! A zeppelin easy to fly in windy weather. 3000 to 6000m ceiling? 16 kg payload?. What is the situation with aplications for? JOKE Super Bowl lot car control?

    • tribulationtime

      I have 3 aplications: two to fight against China (China and Me a classic!!). A) Under fleet cuts this things can do Early Warning at unlikely enemy axis of attack. B) Simulation of Carriers Group to be targeted by DS-21 ballistics anti-ship missiles. C) Cheap substitute / back up of aged E-6 Mercury.

    • Pete

      33 LBS of WHAT???!!! Unreal. I’m an old aerostat guy and this, is, well…? Anyway, as far as “no missiles aboard” that one commenter stated…ground fired Hellfires with an onboard rangefinder etc is the way to go.

    • moronoxy??what?

      My guess is that this is for home use only, along the Mexican, southern border. It can fly cheaply, all day and night, invisible during the day, the only payload needed is for observation. Low cost, low maintenance since the payload is not real high tech, so, this would be perfect for this application.

  • Mark

    I think this thing has to be a smoke screen for some other secret project going on….

  • World Surveillance Group is formerly “SansWire”; supposedly fielding a “stratellite”. This company has almost a decade long history of shady financials and shaky work.
    The segmented design is certainly transportable; but the equipment needed to inflate it negates that small advantage.

    see: militaryairships dot blogspot dot com

  • pandaa

    God damn stealth worms, coming over here, stealing our missions.

  • Will

    If this was April 1…
    Does it telescope for storage?

    • paperpushermj

      There is a special Latex Sleeve for storage

  • Guest

    Might explain some of those cigar shaped UFO sightings.

  • zardinuk

    Place that over the enemy cities and have it drop women’s underwear on their heads! Psychological weaponry!

  • A. Nonymous

    More Harkonnen treachery!

    • blight

      More ornithopters!

  • Nathan

    Super Sperm!

  • Vpanoptes

    Well, one could make inferences about this being yet another (albeit more explicit/symbolic) example of what the military-industrial-Congressional complex is doing to this country (literally or figuratively), but that would be tacky and low-class, but what the hey…..

  • If it ever goes commercial, I doubt Richard Branson’s Virgin label will ever be emblazend across it

  • Rofl

    This is what happens when your designers smoke too much weed…

  • Black Owl

    Whoa! For a second I thought that was a… well… never mind.

  • TH1


  • Tim

    Does that thing look like… what I think it looks like???

    Americans are so obese, even their… ugh… are so… ugh…

  • Darrell

    Once this enters the theater and penitrates defenses, I wonder if it will be a boy or girl?

  • TLAM Strike

    This is part of a new form of stealth.

    Basically when someone reports seeing a giant wang fly by and reports it to their air defense command everyone there will assume they are seriously high.

    • Black Owl

      Thanks for making me almost spit out my coffee.

  • rutgerssteve

    structural feminist military historians will have a field day with this..

    • Rabbit

      That seems like a contradiction in terms right there (hopefully I wasn’t pointing out the obvious…)

  • Just imagine how big the blimp is that this came out of!

  • Stan

    Are we planning the terrorists to laugh themselves to death?

    • Chops

      Once it flies over the enemy it sprays Elmers glue on them.

      • yes but only 33 lbs of it, not enough to sticky up the works unless they have some classified GPS controlled spew nozzle on board.

  • ant

    wtf. what are other countries gonna think when they see a big penis flying through the air. attack of the monster penis.!!!

  • paperpushermj

    If you want to watch video of this flying : Go to Popular Science Mag. site. In their search box… type argus 1

  • notasblindasyou

    Alright, I suppose I will be the first person to state the obvious. This thing will likely employ the same type of distributed sensors currently being embedded in steal aircraft skin. The large surface area will allow the placement of many sensors enabling a very large aggregated aperture for digital integration.

    It will be a GIANT EYE IN THE SKY. and cheap and full of air. it will also apparently house some easily focused traditional equipment, or perhaps a laser painter in that suspended gondola.

    im starting to see that you old guard are limited in your imagination in the face of coming technology. adapt or die.

    • blight

      Something like this in the GMTI mode parked over a border would be neat to track movement. Would be worth testing in Arizona, for instance. If the Border Patrol has manpower problems, then it needs the tech it can get, then just have them operated by contractors to get around manpower limits.

    • tiger

      Thank you Count Zeppelin……

  • Ken

    The Goal? To inseminate the WORLD! Mwahahaha!!

  • Rob

    Obvious to me this is tunnel buster technology. Into the hole and unleash the chemical weapons.

    Maybe Area52 is just looking for the mothership

    Could just be this broke loose off the Belmont Stakes float for the next Macy’s parade. Woah Nelly.

    Russian Spy Agency reports…. American pricks on the move again.

    The next Viagra commercial. Who says its bad to keep your head in the clouds? Rise high & stay there!

  • Kimbo Y. Laurel

    It looks like a flying sperm than a worm. It has a head and tail plus it is white.

  • Stan

    Thank you for this article, btw. Reading the comments was pure joy.

  • pathfinder

    Looks like a spermatoza on steroids……….

  • Ems

    it’s Stealthy eh? that’s scary, the enemy would definitely not want that thing sneak up on them from behind…

  • William C.

    Wants new strategic bomber, gets Freudian blimp instead…

  • obligatory

    Stupid Yankees should have bought the Typhoon as it excells at this role and everything else far better than the F-22 even.

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      And that’s one thumb down for complete, utter, total, 110%, no-doubt-about-it lack of relevance.

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

    • blight

      Almost like a certain person whose solution to everyone problem was five thousand F-23’s, and maybe five thousand more F-22’s.

  • ffjbentson

    Based on color, shape and alt. it will be at maybe it looks like a cloud. Besides if you are only spying on unsophisticated enemies such as the Taliban or al-Quida who can not shoot it down it is a cheap way of staying above them for a long time.

  • JRL

    If being stalked and spied upon by a giant aerial spermatozoon doesn’t qualify as sexual harrassment, then what would?

    Expecting to see Al Quaeda file a human rights violation complaint at the UN any day now…

  • IKnowIT

    OMG- there is SO much to say about how that thing looks, and so little time. Glad I didn’t design that- that guy must have gotten made fun of!

  • Austin Powers’ mojo

    It looks like Dr Evils spaceship dropped something…..

  • RVN11B

    Looks like several items I currently have stashed in my tackle box.

    And in different colors too!

    • Thomas L. Nielsen

      That comment made some very strange and rather disturbing images go through my head….

      Regards & all,

      Thomas L. Nielsen

      • RVN11B

        That should be ‘FISHING TACKLE’ box.

  • Jayson

    So this is more than a Navy vehicle I guess. The NAVY have always been known to be seamen. I seem to have missed, how many men (and/or women) does it take to make this air-squirmy work? Also would nature take over if a blimp happens nearby?

    ok ok bad jokes aside, a unit equiped with one of these is good, 1 – it appears light to transport with a mobile unit helping them to see their surroundings from above and know any movements happening around the area and the colour works at that altitude. I like it and glad I’m not the one to carry it at the same time.

    • blight

      Navy took the lead with airships back in the days (airships getting canned before the AAF became the USAF). Many of the experimental airships went down in weather conditions, but the aircraft carrier airship had promise.

  • Mastro

    All that for 33 lbs of gear seems – well- disappointing…

    • blight

      And that is why airships that are supposed to carry strategic airlift won’t work. And that’s even with America being the Saudi Arabia of helium.

  • Uranium238

    I wonder what continent we are trying to impregnate?

  • aaron

    I thought seamen were only in the navy

  • aaron

    I thought seamen were only in the navy lol

  • Comments about the helium logistics are off. What you can’t clearly see in the photo is the hotair engine, which consists of a solar powered heat pump and a few propane tanks and burner for instant high BTU output for launch. Cooled air exits the tailcone though an efficient spew valve. The actual valve design is DoD classified do to geometric baffles.

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