Next-generation airships are notorious for always being just around the corner, almost but not-quite ready to take to the skies. According to a report in Wired, however, Northrop Grumman’s military Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) has been scheduled to make its maiden flight early next month.
The announcement was reportedly made at a special forces industry conference in Tampa, Florida, by Northrop Grumman’s director of Army programs, K.C. Brown, Jr.
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Apparently the LEMV should begin test flights at Lakehurst, New Jersey, sometime between June 6 and 10. It will then head to Florida, where it will be outfitted with a custom gondola containing its cameras and radios. By early winter (Northern Hemisphere) it should be crossing the Atlantic Ocean, unmanned, for a front-line combat demonstration in what was described only as “a theater.”
Northrop Grumman is building the LEMV for the U.S. Army to operate primarily as a surveillance and reconnaissance vehicle, although potentially also to transport cargo. In fact, Discovery Air Innovations of Canada has already agreed to purchase a larger heavy-lift variant of the LEMV, for providing cargo services to remote regions.