Don't Want To Call this UAV a Blimp? Call It A Video Firehose
Even in this era of unchecked facts and journalist layoffs, some journalists can rightfully be accused of excess caution. Circumspect may well be the watchword for Aviation Week's Graham Warwick as he perseveres with the official name of a defense project called the "Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)." He also benignly calls it an "unmanned surveillance airship." Nope, he doesn't refer to the Hindenburg - not once — and he certainly never lapses into referring to the LEMV as a dirigible, zeppelin or blimp.
Though slightly heavier than air, it's a dirigible in other respects and (Warwick tells us) 250 feet of Unmanned Aerial System technology. The DoD plan is for the beast to remain aloft to 21 days at a time at 20,000 feet.
This translates to 21 days of untold hours of video and other sensor data streams from multiple systems. That in turn is putting additional pressure on a separate planned defense project called Valiant Angel.
Valiant Angel, it is hoped, will serve as repository for all this image data, and perhaps act as some sort of sense-maker, attempting to correlate ground reports, analyst estimates and other intelligence sources with raw video of unending Asian desert and desolate roadway.
The UAS may be based upon Lockheed's P-791. There's a video from a 2006 Lockheed flight test rebroadcast on Technorati and elsewhere, though the final version may depart from this. Warwick reports that Lockheed, Britain's Hybrid Air Vehicles group and probably others will present platform proposals this month.
According to Warwick's report, this baby should be in the air by mid-2011. There's a lot riding on this investment on the ground below. My inbox is seeing a sad stream of DoD News IED fatalities.Continued on the next page