Northrop Grumman said its Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) program team has hit several major milestones in the development of three airships with 21-day persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability.
Four months ago, the company signed a $517 million agreement with the United States Army for the airships. Since then, the company has completed three program milestones -- System Readiness Review (SRR), Initial Baseline Review (IBR) and our Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The team is headed toward its fourth, the Critical Design Review (CDR), by the end of first quarter FY11.
"In less than four months time, we have completed our System Readiness Review (SRR), Initial Baseline Review (IBR) and our Preliminary Design Review (PDR) which looks at the hybrid air vehicle design, ground station infrastructure, and ground and airborne system software," said Alan Metzger, Northrop Grumman vice president and integrated program team leader of LEMV and airship programs.
"As we move forward, we look to inflate our first vehicle next spring, and our first flight is scheduled for mid-next summer," Metzger said. "Upon completion of the development ground and flight testing phase, we expect to transition to a government facility and conduct our final acceptance test in December 2011. It's a very aggressive, almost unprecedented schedule from concept-to-combat with a first of its kind system."
In early 2012, LEMV will be transported for demonstration in an operational environment. The program then transitions from the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command (USA SMDC) control to the project manager for the Army's unmanned aircraft systems.
Northrop Grumman has teamed with Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd. of the United Kingdom using its HAV304 platform, Warwick Mills, ILC Dover, AAI Corporation, SAIC and a team of technology leaders from 18 U.S. states and three countries to build LEMV. Northrop Grumman will provide system integration expertise and flight and ground control operations to safely take off and land the unmanned vehicle for worldwide operations.