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First flight of LEMV military blimp scheduled for next month

First flight of LEMV military ...
Northrop Grumman’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is scheduled to make its first flight next month
Northrop Grumman’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is scheduled to make its first flight next month
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Northrop Grumman’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is scheduled to make its first flight next month
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Northrop Grumman’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is scheduled to make its first flight next month

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.

Source: Wired

23 comments
Derek Howe
awesome. I a big fan of airships, they are way cheaper then satellites, that said, this ones budget is ludicrous. 500 million is 400 million too high.
Trevor Hunt
The 500 million figure is for 3 LEMV's not 1 and that figure includes all the very expensive surveillance gear, remote control systems and ground stations. The cost of each hybrid air vehicle is less than 100 million and will be far less than that of an equivalent fixed wing aircraft once in mass production, they also use only a fraction of the fuel requirement of normal aircraft. The real longer term future is with the HAV 366 that is under development for Discovery Air for vertical heavy lift and long range point to point (Off airport) cargo operations in remote areas. The new hybrid air vehicles use a hoverskirt for an undercart and so don't need a runway, just a flat area of land, ice, snow or water.
Mark Dixon
Lakehurst, NJ, huh? Well, at least we know the builders of this airship aren't superstitious.
Royce Edwards
I would be concerned about using these for surveillance. I realize that they are less expensive than a satellite, but one handheld ground to air missile and it's game over. The reason that unmanned drones work so well is that they are small, fast and can fly close to the ground. There's nothing small or fast about a LEMV. I agree that the heavy lift version of this will have some really powerful uses.
Warhead
The thing about blimps or balloons, ever since WWI, they are such easy targets.
alcalde
@Mark Dixon There's a naval air engineering station in Lakehurst. I heard someone say the airship hangar there is the largest wooden hangar in the world. I've been on the property of the facility but wasn't able to get a pass to see the hangar during the time I was there. I'd love to pay a visit to the closest civilian location to the base and hopefully see this LEMV in flight. Oh, and for those who don't understand what Mr. Dixon was referring to, this location in Lakehurst, NJ was where the ill-fated Hindenburg met with disaster while trying to dock.
Burnerjack
"... Oh, the humanity!"...Royce Edwards and Warhead pretty much sums it up. I suspect this yet another example of military contract (no bid?) awarded for reasons not discussed in public. 'nuf said.
PrometheusGoneWild.com
I think those of you that are concerned with with this being shot down may be missing something. What is its stationary height? I am thinking almost into space..... Not impossible to shoot down, but would require an advanced jet or missile system to do so.
floccipaucinihilipilification
why is it whenever they build a massive airship the gondola is tiny? would it not make sense to utilize the massive underside to make the gondola carry lots of people?
Gadgeteer
Again, lots of ignorance on display here. Mark Dixon, alcalde had it right. This is a military program, and Lakehurst has been the Navy's premier LTA facility since before the Hindenburg. Royce Edwards, operating altitude is 20,000 feet. The Stinger is the best shoulder-launched missile system available and it doesn't have anywhere near that range. And do you think target acquisition would be easy at that distance? What would the heat-seeker of the missile lock onto, especially at that range? Can you easily see an airliner at cruising altitude from the ground? And presumably a production version of this would use something like Compass Ghost Grey coloration rather than white, so you would be hard-pressed to spot it against the sky. floccipaucinihilipilification, you seriously overestimate the lifting power of helium or even hydrogen.