Now airships are poised to make a
real life return to the battlefront. Measuring 250 feet in
length, Lockheed Martin's Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle
(LEMV) is sure to make an imposing presence on the battlefield when
The ship is capable of carrier passengers, or
controlled by operators in the U.S. The airship can sit at
up to 20,000 feet for as long as three weeks at a time. The
LEMV is actually a special kind of airship called a hybrid airship.
Where most airships are lighter than air when flying, hybrid airships
are heavier than air, though they do get some of their buoyancy from
gas compartments. The rest comes from lift during flight (like
airplanes). Some, like LEMV, feature turbines on their
underside to help them initially launch into the air, though they
still require a short runway.
The materials which compose the
three lobes of the aircraft have not been released, so its hard to
assess how resistant to enemy fire they will be. Given, the
craft's cruising height, though, it should be able to remain
relatively safe. The aircraft carries its instruments and
sensors in a 40-foot long, 15-foot wide area behind the cockpit.
The sensor payload will be 2,500 pounds and draw 16 Kw of power.
outlandish airship will see test deployment to the battlefield in
Afghanistan two years from now. It will be used primarily for
Lockheed Martin is also developing separate
airships to transport large amounts of cargo at lower altitudes.
The LEMV and Lockheed's other airships are largely based on the
125-foot P-791 hybrid airship, built and tested in 2006. The
P-791 showed itself capable of taking flight, carrying heavy loads,
and executing sharp turns over six test flights.