The US Army's not-so-secret Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) spy blimp is better at staying hidden than we thought... if unintentionally. Although it was due to fly the friendly skies of Lakehurst, New Jersey in mid-June, Northrop Grumman's usually unmanned surveillance was only just caught floating over the Jersey Shore as part of a maiden flight on August 8th. The conspicuous, delayed test run proved that the LEMV could take off, steer and land smoothly, and started a series of exercises that should culminate in combat trials over Afghanistan at the start of 2013. Northrop's KC Brown Jr. tells Wired that there's a possible (if purely coincidental) consolation for missing another deadline -- the airship could be used in a pinch for carrying as much as seven tons of supplies without getting into harm's way, albeit at a fairly glacial 30MPH. The successful first flight won't be much consolation to Mav6, whose Blue Devil 2 was scuttled at the last minute after technical issues; it's nonetheless a relief for US troops, who may get weeks at a time of constant intelligence on enemy movements. Catch a short snippet of the early LEMV journey after the break.
US Army's LEMV spy blimp spotted hovering over New Jersey, may take up cargo duties (video)
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