The Navy explains its reasoning behind temporarily deflating the helium-filled test MZ-3A Airship housed at the Mega Base in Lakehurst.

Naval Air Systems Command Center Spokesman Doug Abbotts says the craft recently returned from a mission for the U-S Army conducting 120 hours of testing during the Fall and early Winter months and has no customers presently lined up. He says “what we’re going to do, if we can’t find a customer by the 9th of March, is to just deflate it, take the helium out of it and put it in a crate until we find our next mission.”

Abbotts says it’s simply too expensive to keep the inflated airship docked at the base without going on any missions because they have to keep a crew on hand to monitor and maintain helium levels.

However, he says the airship is getting positive feedback from customers so far. He says it’s gotten a 99 percent effectiveness rate for its ability to test intelligence surveillance sensors and cameras.

Abbotts says when needed, it takes just three days to inflate and staff the Blimp with contractors for a new mission. When asked about the future of the vessel, he says “We hope to have a customer for it soon.  Hope to put it back up in the air and be testing sensors and cameras.”

The test air ship is owned by the U-S Navy but operated by contractors.