Blackwater USA Building Airships

The president of private security contractor Blackwater USA says his company plans to expand its business by selling airships and armored vehicles.

Gary Jackson says the Moyock-based company has reduced its general security work and is now focused on security in high-threat areas. Jackson isn't saying when the airships and vehicles would go
on sale.

Jackson made the comments Monday during an economic development forum at Elizabeth City State University.

Jackson says the company plans to build the 170-foot surveillance airship, called the Polar 400, at its plant in northeastern North Carolina. The company says the blimp-like aircraft can be flown remotely at speeds of 60 miles per hour and altitudes of up to 15-thousand feet.

Jackson says it will be tested at another airship developer outside Elizabeth City.

Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell says the airship must pass tests before production can begin.