Battleland

Thar She Floats!

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The Army has finally got its football-field-sized Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) airborne over the Jersey coast. The huge unmanned spy platform is designed to give the U.S. military “more than 21 days of unblinking stare,” contractor Northrop Grumman says.

Not all of its numbers are so stupendous: it boasts a loiter speed of 30 knots, and a dash speed of 80. Price tag: $517 million for “up to” three of the craft — $172 million a pop.

The contractor boasts that its relatively simple design “means we will fly in theater in 2012,” but testing has dragged on. Glancing at the calendar, not sure if that refers to Afghanistan or one of the local cinemas near its home base at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

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tma_sierrahills
tma_sierrahills

Especially considering the cost, I'm a bit skeptical, since if you magnify the image big enough, you can see the remnants of an erased "Goodyear." Whether used to support our combat troops in Afghanistan or parked over the next Superbowl, the one place you will never see it used? At the border with Mexico to enforce border laws. (Would be "racist," don't cha know.)

skyship007
skyship007

Great to see the LEMV flying and congratulations to all concerned at Hybrid Air Vehicles Ltd, who designed and constructed the vehicle in the UK, before final assembly and inflation in the US. I am looking forward to the first flight of the bigger more powerful Freelander (HAV 366) from Cardington in the UK. The Freelander will be used for cargo and vertical heavy lift in remote areas.

f_galton
f_galton

They've parked one of those over my house for some reason, and it's been jamming my ham radio.

J_JamesM
J_JamesM

"$172 million a pop" may sound expensive out of context, but it's actually rather good. It's still cheaper than a $200+ million Global Hawk, and billions cheaper than using a satellite.