First flight of long en­durance multi-in­tel­li­gence ve­hi­cle


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.

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