The US Army is preparing a Northrop Grumman-built surveillance airship for its inaugural flight. Called the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, the helium-filled blimp is intended primarily for reconnaissance and will apparently “redefine persistent surveillance”.
The airship is 300 feet long and will eventually be equipped with an array of sensors following a test flight. The date for the test has been given as between 6 and 10 June and it is expected to take place over Lakehurst, New Jersey. Following a successful test – the major factor in the airship’s next stage – it will be flown to Florida where it will be joined up with a custom-built gondola containing the craft’s cameras and radio equipment.
From there it is due to make an appearance over an unspecified “theatre”, likely Afghanistan, for a demonstration. Based on its performance (should it make it that far) the US Army will either bin the project or start spending some serious cash on it.