Wired’s Danger Room blog reports that the Army’s new football field-sized blimp made its first test flight over New Jersey this week.
Officially called the Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, it was built by U.K. firm Hybrid Air Vehicles and aerospace giant Northrop Grumman.
Provided further testing goes smoothly, the LEMV could deploy to Afghanistan for combat trials in early 2013, floating thousands of feet over the battlefield for, Northrop hopes, entire weeks on end, scanning for insurgents. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, told Danger Room the LEMV could also pull double duty, hauling military cargo out of landlocked Afghanistan as part of the Pentagon’s war drawdown.
It might make for quite the lighter-than-air mule: Northrop claims the LEMV has enough buoyancy to haul seven tons of cargo 2,400 miles at 30 miles per hour.