Skip to comments.U.S. Army Orders Huge Airship to Aid Combat Missions
Posted on 06/16/2010 7:54:07 PM PDT by NormsRevenge
The United States Army has ordered a huge hybrid airship longer than a football field to watch over battlefields in Afghanistan by the end of 2011, according to the airship's builder Northrop Grumman Corporation.
The company has received a $517 million Army contract to build up to three of the huge military airships, called the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicles (LEMV). Such airships would serve as surveillance stations at 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) above sea level and could stay on watch for as long as three weeks at a time.
A LEMV would also have the capability to carry a 2,500-pound (1,113 kg) payload, and still zip along at 92 mph (148 kph) if necessary. The 302-foot (92-meter) airship would typically have a cruising speed of just 34 mph (54.7 kph).
That represents a staying power for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance over a longer period of time than what today's robotic drones such as the Predator or Reaper can provide. [7 sci-fi weapons today.]
"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," said Alan Metzger, Northrop Grumman LEMV program manager.
A heavy-lift configuration could transform the LEMV into a sky transport that carries up to 15,000 pounds (6,803 kg).
The U.S. Army has also conducted military airship field trials for a tethered balloon that would carry radar to help weapon systems track and shoot down cruise missiles.
(Excerpt) Read more at space.com ...
it’s all about air-superiority ... hence ... build more raptors ...
My father and uncle were airship pilots in the early 1960s. They’re some of the youngest (in their mid-70s) members of the Navy’s “Lighter Than Air Association.” I’ll send them this information; they’ll get a chuckle out of it.
I remember when we were confident the U-2 could not be shot down .
20,000 feet .. ain’t much of a reach.
Nice fat target for a SAM.
However, Achmed and his trusty Shilka quad mount shouldn't have too much trouble hitting it. Not to mention the old COMBLOC 37MM and 57MM AA mounts that litter Afghanistan ... or soon would.
Indeed, consider this statement...
Such airships would serve as surveillance stations at 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) above sea level and could stay on watch for as long as three weeks at a time.
Then, realize that much of Afghanistan lies in the range of 8-12,000 feet above sea level. That leaves 8-12,000 feet of air under the airship.
As I recall, the max. vertical range of a Stinger is around 12,000 ft. I imagine the LEMV won't have much of an infra-red signature, but the margin-for-error doesn't amount to much.
Considering that our guys are working in the mountains at 10-15,000’ it would seem that these would be in easy range of a SAM or even a MANPAD.
$170 million apiece!!! Will it ever be worth it?
Isn’t surveillance and reconnaissance the reason for military satellites?
I also think the working altitude of these craft is much too low. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that the Afghans can shoot ‘em down.
Looks like bad implants .... But it will do the lookdown just fine.
They better be good shots. I’d be hanging a couple racks of HellFires onboard to shoot back.
What for - to drop on our troops should they point a gun at the Taliban?
Skunk Works P-791
In 1862 or 1863, the first time. JFC, it's been 150 years. Barrage balloons work. Observation balloons work, although you don't have to know morse code anymore.
They work. Quit with the studies.
Occasionally, someone on the NAS Tower frequency will say "**** 1, cleared direct to one two thousand feet." Or one five thousand feet.
a)They aren't 737s. b)They are dots or less at 15,000 ft.
I go outside to watch and listen.
Sounds like freedom.
Time to climb is amazing.
They call that the “B.F.T.”?
You would bet wrong. 20K ft is 4 miles.
Largest round in this house is .50BMG. I paid the price of a small Kia for the scope and subsequent mods by the factory.
One mile, if I hand it to someone that can actually see, and we use the $5.00/round Arizona Ammunition precision rounds that I stocked up on back when they were only $5.00.
Russian SAMs might hit it, but Kadaffi won't vouch for them. He wanted surface to airplane missiles, and the Soviets kept sending him surface to air missiles.
There's a reason they aren't called hittles.
Kind of off topic, but I sometimes wonder if it would be possible to rebuild The Hindenberg with modern materials and helium, and use it as a luxury touring vehicle. It’s probably commercially impossible, but it would be immensely cool.
Very cool. I read they used balloons in the civil war.
I wouldn’t be worried about getting shot down. First, achmed would have to use a radar, or be one hell of a shot (somebody please enlighten me on how the Stinger locks on, but I bet its ‘active’ and easy to spot). Second, why on earth are we to believe that the story lists the correct ceiling. I remember something as small fry as our four deuce mortars had their range ‘unlisted’...surely we don’t give out accurate info about aircraft capabilities.
Well, that's encouraging.
Alright, but someone commented upthread that at high mountain altitudes, it would be possible to hit these airships with something the Afghans already have.
I'm out of my depth on the science and ballistic technicalities involved here. Just commenting on what I'm seeing from more well-informed posters.
When did Navy retire the last one? I remember that they were called s**tbags.
The airship could have been operational 2 years ago, but the EPA made the DOD redesign the porta-potties...to meet three week mission requirements..
Miltary aviation started with balloons and for the same reasons; What’s old is new again.
That’s a blimp. I mean an 800 foot long airship that can hold 100 people and fly from Germany to Brazil. Imagine the tours it could do: down the Mississippi to the Grand Canyon, past Yosemite and then along Mount Rushmore, stuff like that. It would be the ultimate cool vacation.
...92 mph (148 kph)... 302-foot (92-meter) airship...My goodness.
All over the BBC news this morning:
Nice video of the prototype in flight. The company website is
I keep saying that it feels more and more like 1914.
The National Tower at Gettysburg was an eyesore, and yet it was an excellent way to view the terrain and gain a good understanding of how the battle unfolded. Since it was torn down, I’ve dreamed about a battlefield tour program from tethered hot air balloons...