The original post misstated the size of the LEMV. It has been corrected.
The Army's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) airship has been inflated since last September and has been hanging around in a former dirigible hanger at the old Lakehurst Naval Air Station in southern New Jersey (which now goes by the awkward name of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst), according to John Cummings, a spokesman for the Army Space and Missile Defense Command.
Though the airship has been floating inside that hanger for close to six months, it has yet to make a flight, as various systems are integrated into the LEMV, which is the size of a football field.
Cummings declined to provide a flight date, but did say the command and contractor Northrop Grumman are pursuing "an aggressive schedule" to get it in the air. Not to be overly cranky, but Northrop originally predicted a test flight in the spring of 2011 and a long endurance flight acceptance test for the Army by the end of 2011.
The LEMV will carry a whole bunch of sensor widgets to monitor battlefields, and Stephen Kreider, the Army's deputy program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors, has big plans for the airship. In a Jan. 11 presentation, Kreider envisioned the LEMV becoming a program of record, which could mean the Army could end up with a fleet of airships.
I look forward to eyeballing the 2013 LEMV when the Army releases its budget in a couple of weeks.
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