For over 90 minutes, the hybrid air vehicle’ known as the long endurance multi-intelligence vehicle, or LEMV, stayed afloat above Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.
The LEMV, like a blimp, is capable of carrying multiple intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payloads for more than 21 days at altitudes greater than 22,000 feet. The US Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command conducted the first flight test of vehicle.
“Murphy Bays” on the LEMV can carry just about any kind of sensor or equipment, and design specifications for the LEMV require the vehicle to provide up to 16 kilowatts of electrical power for those payloads.
The LEMV is intended to be used to conduct long-term intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and persistent stare-type missions, and can also be used as a communications relay.
The primary objective of the first flight was to perform a safe launch and recovery of the LEMV. A secondary goal was to verify the flight control system operation. Additional objectives included airworthiness testing and demonstration, as well as system-level performance verification.
The football field-sized LEMV can operate at altitudes greater than 22,000 feet above mean sea level, has a 3,200-km radius of action, can carry a 2,750 pound ISR payload for more than 21 days, and boasts a fuel consumption that is more than 10 times less than comparable capabilities.
The LEMV is designed to be a recoverable and reusable multimission platform. It can be forward located to support extended geostationary operations from austere locations and capable of beyond-line-of-sight command and control.
During this first flight, the LEMV was manned, though the air vehicle can also operate unmanned. Following a planned and detailed inspection of the vehicle, there will be additional manned flights.