The US Army has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to deliver three slightly heavier-than-air-aircraft for operational use as persistent sensor platforms in Afghanistan.
The long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) contract will see the 90m long aircraft, based on an airship but with a rigid airframe and able to land on the ground rather than be tethered to masts, able to remain aloft for up to three weeks at a time with a payload of at least 1134kg, and have a speed of up to 80kt (140km/h). The aircraft, dubbed HAV034, is controlled by large rotating shrouded fan engines and stub wings with control surfaces.
“This opportunity leverages our longstanding leadership positions in developing innovative unmanned air vehicles, C4ISR weapon systems, and leading edge systems integration, and moves Northrop Grumman into this rapidly emerging market space of airships for the military and homeland defense arenas,” said Gary Ervin, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector.
The first HAV034-based air vehicle is due to be deployed within 18 months.