Brit Liggett

New Hybrid Army Aircraft Will Fly Surveillance Missions Over Afghanistan

by , 06/22/10

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The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — or LEMV for short — may look like a silly little blimp, but it is oh, so much more than that. It’s a 300 foot long hybrid aircraft that is capable of flying three week-long, unmanned surveillance missions — talk about a long-range craft! The LEMV is being developed on a contract from the US Military by Northrop Grumman. For a mere $517 million they’re going to hand-deliver three of these giant vehicles to Afghanistan by the middle of 2011.

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The LEMV is intended to only be used for surveillance missions and will fly far above the range of most weapons at 20,000 feet above sea level with a host of high-tech spying gear on board. As it hums along at a speedy 34 miles per hour, it will take video and photographs of the area under question and beam them back to a control center on the ground. The information will help inform the military about the mountainous areas of Afghanistan (and probably other places in the future) where they’ve had issues with seeing a complete ground picture.

Our offering supports the Army’s Joint Military Utility Assessment that this disruptive innovation must meet the Army’s objective of a persistent unblinking stare while providing increased operational utility to battlefield commanders. Part of our innovative offering includes open architecture design in the payload bay to allow sensor changes by service personnel in the field,” said Gary Ervin, corporate vice president and president of the Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. The three airships will be complete and ready for delivery in 18 months.

+ More about the LEMV

Via Engadget

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5 Comments

  1. trev June 26, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    it is based on the British HAV skycat model, http://www.hybridairvehicles.com there is a video clip of the skykitten test model flying, this is a Hybrid airship, it is a lot flatter and wider than a standard airship, the test model skykitten has been flying at Cardington, Bedfordshire, England for quite a few years now.

  2. istandforthetrees June 26, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    It may not be the speediest aircraft but it makes up for it in aesthetics. So cool and kudos to the hybrid!

  3. ah100m June 22, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    The tri-hulled design was Lockheed-Martin Skunk Works’ concept.

  4. Zeppflyer June 22, 2010 at 12:31 pm

    Also, why are there pictures of two different ships? The dual-hulled one is the actual ship being delivered to the military. I don’t know where the tri-hulled one with what appear to be vertical thrusters came from.

  5. Zeppflyer June 22, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    I saw this article last week and was annoyed by an error in it then, which has been emphasized even more in this writing.

    When talking about airships, the word \’hybrid\’ has a different meaning from usual. A hybrid airship is one which gets part of its lift from LTA gas and part from dynamic lift generated by moving an airfoil-shaped hull through the air.

    I\’m assuming that, in this case, \’hybrid\’ means that it has a central gas engine powering electric thrusters. This makes sense based on the size of the engine nacelles. I could be wrong, but I don\’t think that this is a hybrid ship in the proper sense as the envelope certainly doesn\’t appear to be airfoil shaped and a loiter time of 3 weeks would be nearly impossible if the engines have to be run continuously.

    Final point is that this means that either Inhabitat is posting this with no idea of what a word in their title means or is doing so based on their usual propensity for gushing over anything that has the words \’green\’ or \’hybrid\’ in the title, no matter how ecofriendly or practicable it might be.

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