The U.S. Army has launched the debut flight of its massive Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), a souped-up blimp designed to fly continuously for 21 days and provide full surveillance of an area.
The LEMV was launched Tuesday from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. The test flight lasted about 90 minutes.
The all-seeing airship is longer than football field and taller than a seven-story building, according to maker Northrop Grumman. Its shape separates the 21st-century "hybrid air vehicle," as Northrop Grumman calls it, from the blimps that have flown over sporting events for decades.
The LEMV is aerodynamic, with a shape closer to an airfoil than an elongated football like classic blimps. So while old-school blimps stay aloft because of the helium inside, the LEMV uses the helium and its shape to achieve lift.
Northrop Grumman has a $517 million contract to build three airships for the Army
as if black helicopters weren't bad enough