Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)

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Source: Ares Blog
Staying Up, Staring Down - LEMV Airship
Posted by Graham Warwick at 6/8/2009 8:00 AM CDT

A lot more detail on the US Army's plans to test an unmanned hybrid airship for persistent surveillance has emerged in an updated solicitation for the Long Endurance Multi-INT Vehicle (LEMV) demonstration - which is expected to lead to a deployment in Afghanistan. A hybrid airship combines buoyant, aerodynamic and propulsive lift to make it easier to launch and recover than a true lighter-than-air aircraft.

LEMV has replaced the Persius (Persistent Elevated Reconnaissance Surveillance Intelligence Unmanned System), which was planned as a FY2009 joint capability technology demonstration. Persius was to be awarded to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, to build a version of its P-791 proof-of-concept hybrid airship, which flew back in January 2006.

The Persius and LEMV specs look almost identical. Army Strategic Command is looking for a demonstrator that can carry a payload of at least 2,500lb to 20,000ft for three weeks. At 20,000ft, the payload line-of-sight would be 173 miles.

The hybrid airship is to be untethered and unmanned, but optionally manned for self-deployment, with the ability to fly a 2,500-mile roundtrip mission. The payload gondola and airship structure is to be capable of carrying a heaver, 5,000lb payload to lower, 10,000ft altitude.

Once on station, the Army wants the autonomous LEMV to station-keep for three weeks, staying within a 3.5km-radius circle 50% of the time, 75km 75% of the time and 150km 95% of the time. A 20kt average cruise speed and 80kt dash are required.

That's for the demonstrator. The solicitation also requests a growth plan to a higher-performance airship capable of carrying a 7,000lb, 73kW payload to 10,000-20,000ft for at least a month, cruising at 30kt and station-keeping to within 2km 50% of the time and 50km 95% of the time, controlled via satcom from the US.

For the demonstrator, the solicitation spells out three test flights: an initial low-altitude flight and recovery, possibly from the contractor's facility; an operational-altitude flight with station-keeping for "days" over a military range; and a third flight of 21 days in an "operational environment", scheduled for the third quarter of FY2011.

A "rapid deflation device" is required to terminate the flight if control is lost, to prevent the aircraft breaching airspace restrictions, or to prevent the sensitive payload falling into the wrong hands.
 

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Source: Ares Blog
Afghan ISR Airship Gets the Nod
Posted by Graham Warwick at 12/30/2009 7:17 AM CST

The Pentagon has given the go-ahead to demonstrate a long-endurance unmanned airship for deployment over Afghanistan. The plan is to enter an "other transaction agreement" (OTA), likely through the ISR consortium organised by the National Defense Industries Association (NDIA) to facilitate the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) demonstration.

The OTA will be for a five-year technology demonstration of an airship with three weeks' endurance, a 2,500lb payload with 16kW of power, and an operating altitude of 25,000ft, 80kt dash speed and 20kt station-keeping speed. The payload will include EO/IR sensors, SAR/GMTI radar and Sigint, plus communications relay.

The LEMV contract will be awarded competitively, and the NDIA consortium involves several potential suppliers of the airship itself, including Aeros, the UK's Hybrid Air Vehicles and Lockheed Martin Skunk Works.

The agency for the LEMV demonstration is US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Strategic Forces Command. The RFP is scheduled to be released at the end of January, with flight testing to begin 18 months after contract award. Deployment to Afghanistan will follow.
 

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Afghan ISR Airship a Step Closer
Posted by Graham Warwick at 2/15/2010 4:56 PM CST
The request for proposals for the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence (LEMV) airship demonstrator is out, calling for three weeks' endurance - unmanned - carrying a 2,500lb payload at 20,000ft. But plans to award the streamlined "other transactions authority" (OTA) contract to an ISR consortium formed for the program have changed.

Instead, US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT) is holding a competition and plans to award the OTA contract to the winning prime for the airship. Lockheed Martin plans to bid. Northrop Grumman also plans to bid, and is expected to team with one of the interested airship builders, which include the UK's Hybrid Air Vehicles, Aeros and others.

The OTA is for a five-year technology demonstration, with performance tests to begin in 18 months of contract award, expected in June, and testing and demonstration to be conducted in Afghanistan over the remaining term of the agreement. In theater, the LEMV will provide persistence surveillance with a variety of electro-optical, radar and sigint sensors, as well as comms relay.
 

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Northrop Grumman Awarded $517 Million Agreement for U.S. Army Airship With Unblinking Eye

MELBOURNE, Fla., BETHPAGE, N.Y., and LONDON, June 14, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new hybrid airship weapons system, just larger than the length of a football field, will take to the skies in just 18 months to provide an unblinking, persistent eye for more than three weeks at a time to aid U.S. Army troops in Afghanistan, according to Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) officials.

The company today announced it has been awarded a $517 million (£350.6 million) agreement to develop up to three Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) systems for the U.S. Army. Northrop Grumman has designed a system with plug-and-play capability to readily integrate into the Army's existing common ground station command centers and ground troops in forward operating bases—the main objective to provide U.S. warfighters with persistent ISR capability to increase awareness of the ever changing battlefield.

A photo accompanying this release is available at http://media.globenewswire.com/noc/mediagallery.html?pkgid=7613

"This opportunity leverages our longstanding leadership positions in developing innovative unmanned air vehicles, C4ISR weapon systems, and leading edge systems integration, and moves Northrop Grumman into this rapidly emerging market space of airships for the military and homeland defense arenas," said Gary Ervin, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector.

Under the agreement, awarded by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, Northrop Grumman will design, develop and test a long-duration hybrid airship system within an 18-month time period, and then transport the asset to the Middle East for military assessment.

"It is critical that our warfighters are equipped with more enabling integrated ISR capability to tackle today's and tomorrow's conflicts," said Alan Metzger, Northrop Grumman LEMV program manager. "Our offering supports the Army's Joint Military Utility Assessment that this disruptive innovation must meet the Army's objective of a persistent unblinking stare while providing increased operational utility to battlefield commanders. Part of our innovative offering includes open architecture design in the payload bay to allow sensor changes by service personnel in the field."

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.
 

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Source: Ares Blog
Northrop to Build LEMV Surveillance Airship

Posted by Graham Warwick at 6/14/2010 4:10 PM CDT
The US Army has confirmed Northrop Grumman will develop the Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) technology demonstrator, awarding the company a five-year, $517 million contract to build and fly the three-week-endurance hybrid airship. Lockheed Martin was the other finalist.

The Northrop-led team is to complete development and testing within 18 months, after which the LEMV will be shipped "to the Middle East [read Afghanistan] for military assessment," says the Army. The contract includes two more airships.

Northrop's team includes UK firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), custodian of the Airship Industries' heritage. HAV will be responsible for the HAV304 airship, which is to be assembled and flown at the former naval blimp base at Tillamook, Oregon. (Read Northrop's release here.)

Operating unmanned, the LMEV is intended to stay on station at 20,000ft for 21 days and proving 16kW of power to a 2,500lb payload of video, radar and sigint sensors.
 

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DATE:15/06/10
SOURCE:Flight International
Northrop Grumman wins race to revive hybrid airships with $517 million order
By Stephen Trimble

Northrop Grumman intends to spark a hybrid airship revival with a $517 million contract awarded today to deliver three slightly heavier-than-air aircraft to the US Army for deployment to Afghanistan.
Partnering with UK-based Hybrid Air Vehicles, Northrop captured the award for the long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) programme despite a strong rival bid led by Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works division.
"This disruptive innovation must meet the Army's objective of a persistent unblinking stare while providing increased operational utility to battlefield commanders," says Alan Metzger, Northrop's LEMV programme manager.

Unlike blimps, hybrid airships require propulsion to takeoff and forward movement to remain aloft. Once popular as military surveillance and cargo aircraft, the US Navy retired its last hybrid airships in the 1950s.
Nonetheless, Gary Ervin, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector, says in a statement that the contract award "moves Northrop Grumman into this rapidly emerging market space of airships for the military and homeland defense arenas".
Hybrid airship has enjoyed a perhaps unlikely renaissance within the Department of Defense. Modern designs appear to deliver the unique ability to persistently observe targets across hundreds of kilometres - and remain within the earth's atmosphere.
As the army has pursued LEMV, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has launched the Integrated Sensor is Structure (ISIS) programme, in which Lockheed's Skunk Works aims to replace moving target radar systems -- such as the E-3 airborne warning and controls system (AWACS) and the E-8 joint surveillance target attack radar system (JSTARS) -- with a hybrid airship.
Meanwhile, the USN's research community has expressed a long-term interest in delivering massive amounts of cargo using hybrid airships of enormous proportions.
Northrop's LEMV contract marks the first test of the effectiveness and safety of modern hybrid airship design in combat conditions.
The army plans to deploy Northrop's unmanned hybrid airships, designated the HAV304 [see flight test video below], to Afghanistan within a year of contract award.
LEMV requirements call for an aircraft that can remain aloft at 20,000ft for three weeks without landing. Each aircraft also must carry multiple intelligence payloads weighing up to 1,134kg (2,500lb), provide up to 16kW power and achieve a maximum speed of 80kt (148km/h).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mu2glpmRXIs&feature=player_embedded
 
S

sublight

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flateric said:
Northrop Grumman wins race to revive hybrid airships with $517 million order
I think we'll eventually discover several covert hybrid airships have been flying since 1982.

http://www.thestealthblimp.com/
 

AeroFranz

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Funny. I thought Lockmart would have this one easily won due to their work on P-791.
 

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I "hear" that they used the same engine for power as the "Big-Dog" prototype :D

Randy
 

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Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) Agreement Signed
Jun 17, 2010
By John Cummings (SMDC/ARSTRAT)

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. - On June 14, the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command signed an agreement to develop a state-of-the-art hybrid airship that will provide persistent time-on station for additional intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance to the theater commander.

The agreement was awarded to Northrop Grumman for the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) technology demonstrator.

The base year of the agreement, for approximately $154 million and up to $517 million if all options are exercised, provides for the design, development and testing of a long-duration hybrid airship system within an 18-month time period, and then transport the asset to Afghanistan for military assessment. The agreement also includes options for procuring two additional airships.

"We are doing this to protect the soldiers on the ground," said Marty Sargent, LEMV Project Manager. "We are on a tight schedule but we want this to be successful for the Army and all services."

The football field-sized hybrid airship's design requirements include the capability to operate at 20,000 feet above mean sea level, a 2,000 mile radius of action, and a 21-day on-station availability; provide up to 16 kilowatts of electrical power for payload; be runway independent; and carry several different sensors at the same time. LEMV will be a recoverable and reusable multi-mission platform. It can be forward located to support extended geostationary operations from austere locations and capable of beyond-line-of-sight command and control.

LEMV is being awarded as an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA). OTA's for Prototype Projects are called agreements because they differ from a traditional Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) contract in that many of the federal laws and regulations governing procurement contracts are waived.

"We utilized the OTA to access commercial technology; while Northrop Grumman is primarily a U.S. defense contractor, High Altitude Vehicles, Ltd. (HAV), who partnered with Northrop Grumman, is not," stated Cathy Dickens, USASMDC/ARSTRAT Principle Assistant Responsible for Contracting. "The technology that we needed to reach out for in the airship business was primarily commercial," Dickens continued.

The timeline for LEMV is an 18 month schedule that includes vehicle inflation at about month 10 with first flight planned in month 12 or 13. Additional operational characterization will occur at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., in month 16.

Source: www.army.mil
 

flateric

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have found other NG LEMV rendering
 

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FutureSpaceTourist

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Here's a WSJ article about LEMV and selection Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) to build the craft.

Attached artist's impression from the article is intended to show the scale of the vehicle. There's a small version of the image (and several others) on the HAV website but they don't appear to have large versions publicly available to download.
 

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enjoy!
http://www.northropgrumman.com/Paris/briefings/assets/2011-paris-lta-briefing.pdf
 

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Army's LEMV Surveillance Airship Flies

7:42 PM on Aug 07, 2012

The US Air Force may have cancelled its persistent surveillance airship, but the US Army has kept the faith, and today (August 7) Northrop Grumman's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) made its delayed first flight.

No pictures have been released yet, but the 300ft-plus-long hybrid airship flew manned for more than 90min from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey. The Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command statement says:

The first flight primary objective was to perform a safe launch and recovery with a secondary objective to verify the flight control system operation. Additional first flight objectives included airworthiness testing and demonstration, and system level performance verification. All objectives were met during the first flight.

When Northrop signed the $154 million contract for the LEMV in June 2010, first flight was scheduled for 12-13 months into the 18-month development program. The airship is planned to deploy to Afghanistan after the completion of testing, which would now put it into early 2013.

The airship is designed to operate unmanned at 20,000 ft. for 21 days; providing up to 16kW of electrical power for a 2,500 lb. payload of several different sensors. Hybrid Air Vehicles of the UK is the subcontractor responsible for the airship itself.

The LEMV is optionally manned and flew with a crew for this first flight. "Additional manned flights will resume following a planned and very detailed inspection of the vehicle," says the Army.

The Air Force canceled its Blue Devil 2 persistent surveillance airship in May, 18 months after contract award, issuing prime contractor MAV6 with a stop-work order owing to poor performance. The non-rigid airship had been inflated and was undergoing integration in Elizabeth City, NC, but had yet to fly.

http://www.aviationweek.com/Blogs.aspx?plckBlogId=Blog:27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3A27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3Ab16d951c-82be-42df-a54e-48ff6318442c
 

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Re: Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) / LEMV First Flight

The U.S. Army's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) flew for the first time from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., on Aug. 7. The air vehicle was airborne for more than 90 minutes during its initial flight. LEMV is built by Northrop Grumman with major subcontrator Hybrid Air Vehicle.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1G-L7qvTKI
 

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http://www.northropgrumman.com/performance/pdf/unmanned/Air/LEMV/LEMV_data_sheet.pdf
 

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LEMV is cancelled
www.insidedefense.com/201302132424647/Inside-Defense-General/Public-Articles/army-deflates-lemv-airship-cost-and-schedule-cited/menu-id-926.html
 

LowObservable

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Oh, the unmannity!

Mind you, consider:
- Most ambitious LTA built since the 1930s
- Extremely short schedule
- The "airframe" came out of a fabric mill
- The vehicle design was done in a haunted airship shed in Bedfordshire...
- ...By people with no background in US contracting since the YEZ-2A
- The prime contractor was Northrop Grumman ('ooray!) but it was
- NorthGrum's radar division (boooo!)
- The customer was the Army, which last I heard knew a lot about helicopters and tanks

Which was why, on realizing this a few years ago, I asked: "What could possibly go wrong?"
 

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Gone the way of the Blue Devil, and wasn't there another big idea for blimps back in the 1990s? Oh well, these things were for people who lived in the war-gaming world. In real life, mother nature doesn't play very nice with all that surface area.
 

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Time for an update to this already: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-81

I always liked the language around the Blue Devil cancellation: http://defense-update.com/20120529_blue-devil-2-airship-deflated.html

‘unacceptable performance’ and ‘recurring failures to meet minimum operating standards’
 

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JFC Fuller said:
Time for an update to this already: http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-13-81

I always liked the language around the Blue Devil cancellation: http://defense-update.com/20120529_blue-devil-2-airship-deflated.html

‘unacceptable performance’ and ‘recurring failures to meet minimum operating standards’
That's a bit odd. As I recall, Blue Devil was never even flight tested. Inflating the bare gas bag was about as far as they ever got.
 

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Merge topic with this?
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,11558.msg110033.html#msg110033
 

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