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.
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.