LEMV Blimp Makes Maiden Flight
Army’s new surveillance blimp makes its debut flight…
The U.S Army’s Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) – an autonomous, free-flying surveillance blimp, made its maiden flight on the 7th of August over the skies of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
No official pictures of the flight have been released, but reports say the 300ft-plus-long hybrid airship flew manned for more than 90 minutes at an undisclosed altitude.
LEMV Maiden Flight
The airship – which is not technically a blimp since it’s heavier than air and gets 20 percent of its lift from six turbo diesel engines – is designed to operate manned or unmanned at a height of 20,000 ft. for 21 days, whilst providing up to 16kW of electrical power to carry a 2,500lb array of sensors.
The Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command statement says:
“The first flight primary objective was to perform a safe launch and recovery with a secondary objective to verify the flight control system operation. Additional first flight objectives included airworthiness testing and demonstration, and system level performance verification. All objectives were met during the first flight.”
Developed by Northrop Grumman, with Hybrid Air Vehicles of the UK is the subcontractor being responsible for the airship itself, the LEMV’s test flight comes a little later than scheduled; Northrop Grumman originally signed the $154 million contract in June 2010, with the hopes of making the first flight within 12-13 months.
Despite the yearlong delay the LEMV is now scheduled for testing in Afghanistan early next year.
- Graham Warwick: Army's LEMV Surveillance Airship Flies. Ares, Aviation Week, 08/07/2012.