Analysis

‘Blimp’ to Boost Military Intelligence Collection at Low Cost
U.S. Army illustration of the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV).
June 4, 2012
| Security
| Middle East and North Africa
Summary
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A military blimp may seem counterintuitive in an era of satellites, stealth fighter jets and drones, but a new unmanned hybrid airship will be a major boost to U.S. military intelligence capabilities by serving as a low-cost, long-duration intelligence, surveillance, and communications platform. Built by Northrop Grumman (NOC) and known as the Long-Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), the new airship is slated to take its inaugural flight in the next few weeks and could be ready for deployment later this year.

According to Northrop Grumman, the LEMV “is longer than a football field, taller than a seven-story building and will remain airborne for more than three weeks at a time, delivering a high level of fuel efficiency.” This gives it significant advantages over multi-billion dollar spy satellites and aircraft due to their higher operating costs and significantly shorter time over targets.

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