Bringing back the Airship

Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) (thumbnail)

What is as long as a football field, seven stories high, and weighs next to nothing? Can hangout for 21 days? Go from contract to field test in 18 months?

From the press release: “Northrop Grumman’s Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV). In early 2012, LEMV will participate in an Army Joint Military Utility Assessment in an operational environment.”

“Six months after signing the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) agreement with the U.S. Army to build three airships with 21-day persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability, Northrop Grumman’s LEMV program team has completed its Critical Design Review (CDR)…There are three upcoming major milestones in the next 10 months…We’ll have hull inflation in the spring and first flight of the airship test article by mid-to-late summer. Upon completion of the development ground and flight testing phase, we expect to transition to a government facility and conduct our final acceptance long endurance flight just before year’s end. In early 2012, LEMV will participate in an Army Joint Military Utility Assessment in an operational environment…As you can imagine, it’s a very aggressive schedule to deliver from concept-to-combat in this time period.”

Think there might be some Coast Guard application for this?

10 thoughts on “Bringing back the Airship

  1. The uses to which airships can be used by the Coast Guard are myriad.
    Not the traditional blimps or dirigible types.
    The “hybrid” LEMV is a good start, but has distinct disadvantages of it’s own; primarily it’s cost, secondarily, while it is designed to supposedly land “on” water, it cannot land “IN” water; and therefore cannot be readily loaded/unloaded, or deploy smaller craft from it.

    There is a better way. The Coast Guard should look seriously into use of fully rigid shelled, AMPHIBIOUS airships.

  2. Good grief, another chapter of “Tom Swift and his Electric Air Schooner”. If my memory serves me well, the CG experimented with one or two of these gas bags back in the 1970’s. For some reason HQ released a photo of one sporting a “USCG” logo but I don’t recall any PR stories of why they weren’t adopted by the CG. I’m guessing they were VERY EXPENSIVE to purchase, maintain, and hanger. These flying machines are too esoteric for the other Services with their deep pockets, other wise I’m sure the “Zoomies” in the USAF/USN would field a fleet of them. The Coast Guard should put their money in keeping their vericose surface fleet operational.

  3. You’re right Killroywashere. Those “gas bags” are very expensive. That’s the problem. You’ll note, I wrote “NOT the traditional blimps or dirigible types” of airships. The only airships that have existed, for over 100 years…are all wrong. The cost to much to construct, need giant hangars, need special mooring masts and ground crews, are fragile, are slow, are extemely difficult to maneuver….etc, etc, etc.

    What is needed is an entirely NEW form of airship. The so called “hybrids” are a step in the right direction…but barely. Todays’ technology can create truly viable workhorse airships; but, it’s going to take people with enough vision and gumption to make the leap forward from the 19th Century idea of airships, to the future.

    Fuel concerns says it must be done, eventually. Might as well get started……….

  4. Campbell is an inveterate airship advocate. I’m sure he’s excited to see the Army advancing this technology.

    Killroy, I don’t think anyone (other than Campbell) is advocating we get out ahead on this, but it will be interesting to see what comes of the Army’s program. If it works well for them, then maybe we will reevaluate.

    This technology is very different from the blimps of World War II. They are actually heavier than air (lightened by helium) but with addition support from aerodynamic lift.

  5. I cant help but be reminded of a humorous experience with Aerostat back when I was in CGC Chase while U/W in the Carribean during the early 80’s . During one of our deployments while working with the airship it broke its tether to the mothership and we chased it for a day while on turbines and it eventually outran us and we heard that it eventually crashed and sank before it could be retrieved. It evidently was a useful tool for interdiction but was curtailed apparently due to costs.
    I found this paragraph online for reference on the site factsheet on the subject :
    “The first aerostats were assigned to the United States Air Force in December 1980 at Cudjoe Key, Fla. with the original 250,000 CF aerostat. An additional site was constructed and operated by the USAF at Cape Canaveral, Fla. in 1983. This site was deactivated a few years later. During the 1980s, the U.S. Customs Service operated a network of aerostats to help counter illegal drug trafficking. Their first site was built at High Rock, Grand Bahamas Island, in 1984. The second site was built at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. in 1986. Prior to 1992, three agencies operated the TARS network to include the USAF, U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Coast Guard. Congressional language in 1992 transferred management of the system to the Defense Department, with the Air Force as executive agent. Under Air Force management, through contract consolidation and system standardization, the operations and maintenance cost per site has been reduced approximately 50% from $6 million in Fiscal Year 1992 to the current rate of $2.8 million. “

  6. The reason the USAF got the nod from the Congress was the infighting between the Customs and Coast Guard. Neither would agree who was in charge. This is one reason the E2C program ended.

    I saw a report of a UAV that few on hydrogen that could get to 65,000 feet and fly for a week. I know it is experimental and very expensive for the Coast Guard but who says the Coast Guard has to run it.

    The largest hindrance to any innovation are the people in charge of the various agencies and their personal wants. Look at Admiral Ernest King at the start of WWII. H e would not release ships to prevent German subs on our coast. He did not think it important. Heck, the Brits got tired of it and sent trawlers to the U. S. East Coast.

    I have not read the word “jointness” in quite a while. I suppose it has passed away.

  7. I love learning about the Hindenburg!!! I’m doing a report in my history class, but your site sucks. hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    just kidding. i kinda loved it.

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