The US Army has just completed the first test flight for its Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a massive airship designed for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance. The LEMV took to the air for 90 minutes on Tuesday, taking off from a military base in New Jersey, and according to Army spokesperson John Cummings, "all objectives were met during the first flight." According to manufacturer Northrop Grumman, the airship has the ability to stay in the air for more than 21 days, and it can operate both unmanned and with a crew of between 12 and 24 people.
During the initial flight the airship was manned, and the Army plans to do at least a few months more of testing before the LEMV is deployed in the field — which could be as early as next year. The 302-foot-long craft may be deployed in Afghanistan, where it would not only be used for surveillance, but also to haul cargo out of the country.