Sure, it took an extra year or so, but Northrop Grumman has finally penciled in the first flight of the giant surveillance airship it’s building for the U.S. Army. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a football-field-size, helium-filled robot blimp fitted with sensors and data-links — should take to the air over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the first or second week of June. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, crows: ”We’re about to fly the thing!”
It’s fair to say Northrop and the Army are crossing their collective fingers for the flight to actually take place, and smoothly. Giant airships promise huge benefits — namely, low cost and long flight times — but it’s proved incredibly hard to build and equip the massive blimps with military-grade sensors and communications … and fill them with helium.
- Army Readies Its Mammoth Spy Blimp for First Flight (wired.com)
- Army preps its giant chubby spy blimp for Afghanistan (dvice.com)
- Army spy blimp to launch within weeks: 300 feet long, $500 million, ‘multi-intelligent’ (engadget.com)
- U.S. Army preparing to test a new Giant Toy (markosun.wordpress.com)
- First flight of LEMV military blimp scheduled for next month (gizmag.com)
- US Army’s mammoth spy blimp readies for debut (ecofriend.com)