US Army cancels LEMV airship project
When Northrop Grumman announced that it was building the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), it looked as if the age of the great airships was returning. When the LEMV took to the air in its maiden flight, it seemed a certainty. Now, the US Army has announced that the US$517 million program has been cancelled.
When we contacted the US Army, a spokesman said, “The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), a hybrid air vehicle, is a technology demonstration project administered by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command. This project was initially designed to support operational needs in Afghanistan in Spring 2012; it will not provide a capability in the timeframe required. Due to technical and performance challenges, and the limitations imposed by constrained resources, the Army has determined to discontinue the LEMV development effort."
The LEMV was intended to act as a very long endurance aircraft that could hover on station at an altitude of 20,000 feet (6,100 m) for 21 days, for surveillance and reconnaissance.
The Northrop video below shows the LEMV taking off.
Source: US Army via Popular Science
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Like Dave, I'm hoping that much of the hard work was already done and that Northrop Grumman and it's partners can keep the project alive by appealing to cargo companies, etc. And the did build and demo the LEMV we see in the video as proof of concept, so all we boasters can do is hope that someone in industry picks up where the Army left off.
I can really see this being a great option for close to mid distance transport, like interstate ride. Budget airlines are already doing these routes with small planes, but I think a Blimp holding those 30-50 passengers will be a hellavalot cheaper than planes. (Not that I really know their price, but I suppose that should be about accurate)
I think it would be really cool as a floating cruise ship; like the Hindenburg but way safer.
I think airships/hybrids have a bright future, I think the biggest money maker for them will be lifting heavy, large, & oddly shaped items. This project got canned, but the one that I think shows the most promise (Aeroscraft) is still chugging along with progress.