Airships With Unblinking Eyes

Monday, June 28th, 2010

Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $517 million contract to provide the U.S. Army with three airships with unblinking eyes:

LEMV will sustain altitudes of 20,000 feet for a three-week period, and it will operate within national and international airspace. It will be forward-located to support extended geostationary operations from austere operating locations using beyond-line-of-sight command and control.

Northrop Grumman is using an old aircraft research project to get all this design, manufacturing and testing done in time:

LEMV is based on the existing (and tested) Hybrid Air Vehicle (HAV), which was an aerodynamic blimp built to transport cargo. HAV looks like a flattened blimp, a wide airship with much better handling qualities. LEMV is an unmanned blimp that can carry 1.1 tons of sensors, stay aloft for 21 days at a time, supply 16 kilowatts of power and move at up to 148 kilometers an hour at 6,400 meters (20,000 feet) altitude.


  1. Siddhartha Vicious says:

    This looks very like a slow-frieght blimp that I designed on paper about 35 years ago (Gad, I’m old).

    The main difference being that mine was not simply streamlined, but had an airfoil, ‘lifting body’ shape.

    20,000 feet does not seem high enough to safeguard the craft in any semi-modern battlefield, by the way.

  2. Isegoria says:

    My designs from three decades ago lacked the airfoil shape — but they had lasers. Who knew that the military would go on to seriously consider laser-armed airships?

Leave a Reply