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COST-CUTTING KILLS BALLOONS

Royal Air Force balloons, a cherished part of Britain's military arsenal for over a century, fell victim Friday to modern cost-cutting methods.

"The trouble is that they were very labor-intensive," explained Chris Pickthall, balloon operations squadron leader. "We had three balloons, and each team had 15 men. The balloons cost ($144,500) each and ($803) a time to fill with hydrogen."

The Royal Air Force balloons also suffered from a lack of Egyptian cotton, the material from which they are made. The Balloon Operations Squadron was used in World War I to direct artillery attacks on German trenches and in World War II to defend London from German bombers.

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