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.

View gallery - 5 images