Army plans massive hybrid airships over Afghanistan in 2011

The U.S. Army just awarded a contract to Northrup Grumman to build its new LEMV surveillance ship, a massive airship set to hit the skies of Afghanistan next year.

So what is the Army getting for its $517 million? Three of the ships, each of which can carry 2,500 pounds of people and cargo. They'll hover 20,000 feet above sea level and putter along at a top speed of about 34 miles per hour. They'll presumably be loaded up with all sorts of surveillance equipment that will allow them to get a bird's-eye view of huge areas of the country, peeking in on those Taliban warlords often.

So what do you think: are three of these airships worth over a half a billion dollars of taxpayer money?

MarketWatch, via Engadget