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NEWS | Aug. 20, 2012

Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle takes first flight

By Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Public Affairs and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs

The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command conducted the first flight test of the Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle Aug. 8 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. The hybrid air vehicle was airborne for more than 90 minutes during its initial flight.

"JB MDL provides an ideal platform for the LEMV program's development and testing," said Lt. Col. Stephen Snelson, 305th Air Mobility Wing Operations Support Squadron commander. "We are one of only two military locations in the U.S. with hangars built primarily for lighter-than-air aircraft operations, making the joint base a fantastic choice for this historic project."

The first flight primary objective was to perform a safe launch and recovery with a secondary objective to verify the flight control system operation. Additional first flight objectives included airworthiness testing and demonstration, and system level performance verification. All objectives were met during the first flight.

The LEMV is an optionally manned or unmanned air vehicle which was manned during this flight. Additional manned flights will resume following a planned and very detailed inspection of the vehicle. Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor for LEMV, is working with their international partner Hybrid Air Vehicle of the United Kingdom as a major subcontractor.

The LEMV is not the only airship presently located at JB MDL. Also flown here is the only airship currently in U.S. Navy active flying service, the MZ-3A manned airship.

"Traditionally we were the home of the airships back in the 1920s," said Tom Worsdale, Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs. "The Navy started the airship program at Lakehurst so we have the hangars set up for these programs."

The MZ-3A is 178 feet long, capable of flying up to 9,500 feet and cruises at 45 knots. The ship is fitted with two Lycoming engines and has space for one pilot and nine passengers.