Unmanned airship from Northrop Grumman to stay aloft for 21 days

DENVER, 27 Aug. 2010. Northrop Grumman engineers are in the process of creating for the U.S. Army a persistent surveillance unmanned airship that can stay aloft for three weeks  -- and they are producing it in 18 months. Delivery of the Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) is scheduled for December of 2012, the contract was awarded this summer.

Aug 27th, 2010
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Posted by John McHale

DENVER, 27 Aug. 2010. Northrop Grumman engineers are in the process of creating for the U.S. Army a persistent surveillanceunmanned airship that can stay aloft for three weeks-- and are producing it in 18 months. Delivery of the Long-Endurance Multi-Int Vehicle (LEMV) is scheduled for December of 2012, the contract was awarded this summer.

The LEMV will be unique because it is untethered and provides persistent intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) for 21 straight days for an estimated total fuel cost of $15,000, much cheaper than manned or other unmanned aircraft, says Liz DelGrosso, business development representative for Northrop Grumman in Melbourne, Fla.

The ISR sensors and other devices will be provided by the Army as government funded equipment -- in other words the Army is choosing the payloads and providing them to Northrop Grumman for integration, she adds. Payload options include radar, full motion video, communication relays, and other components depending on the mission and are integrated on what Northrop Grumman calls the Murphy Bay on the centerline on the vehicle bottom.

The payloads will be modular, so they are easily swapped in and out, DelGrosso says. The ground control station will be compatible with the Army’s universal ground control station.

The airship will be a hybrid air vehicle, that can be unmanned or manned, depending on the mission, DelGrosso continues. If it is a manned mission the cockpit will be configured so a human can live up there for 21 days, she adds.

DelGrosso says the LEMV is 300 feet long and 7 stories high and can climb to elevations of 20,000 feet.

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