The Army’s football-field-size robot spy blimp finally took to the air for the first time Tuesday at a military base in Lakehurst, New Jersey. The 90-minute first flight of the Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, manufactured by aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, is only the beginning of a months-long test program, but it’s still good news. For years the Pentagon had tried and failed to get next-generation airships off the ground.
Archived posts with tag ‘Northrop Grumman’
The U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers flight decks are some of the most chaotic and deadly real estate in the world. Teeming with scores of high-performance aircraft, wheeled vehicles and up to a thousand sailors generating up to several hundred sorties per day, flight decks “are fraught with danger,” the Naval Safety Center warned in a 2003 publication. “You can get blown down by prop wash, blown over-board by jet exhaust, run over by taxiing aircraft or sucked up and spit out by a turning engine.”
TAMPA, Florida — Sure, it took an extra year or so, but Northrop Grumman has finally penciled in the first flight of the giant surveillance airship it’s building for the U.S. Army. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle — a football-field-size, helium-filled robot blimp fitted with sensors and data-links — should take to the air over Lakehurst, New Jersey, the first or second week of June. K.C. Brown, Jr., Northrop’s director of Army programs, crows: ”We’re about to fly the thing!”
The past decade has seen an unlikely revival of a long-grounded technology. Military airships, last operational with the U.S. Navy in the 1960s, took back to the skies, propelled by soaring demand for long-endurance, low-cost aerial surveillance in Iraq and Afghanistan. Per flight hour, an airship costs a fraction of what a helicopter or a fixed-wing plane costs.
The U.S. Air Force’s new Long-Range Strike Bomber will be less complex and cheaper than the flying branch’s last bomber, the Northrop Grumman B-2. That’s the vow service leaders have been making in Washington, D.C., in recent months as the potentially $55-billion bomber program gets off the ground. (Congress approved the first $300 million in development funds last fall.) “The program will leverage mature technologies” to keep the per-bomber cost to under $550 million, according to Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, an Air Force spokesman.
The Air Force’s bomber troubles stretch a long way back. The last bomber to be developed and purchased without huge cost overruns was the B-52, which began development in the late 1940s. Twice in subsequent decades the Air Force launched a new bomber program in order to replace the now-classic B-52, only to see costs rise and production terminated early. Seventy years after its design was conceived, the B-52 remains America’s most numerous strategic bomber.
When the Obama administration dispatched three B-2 bombers from a Missouri air base on March 19 last year to cross the ocean and reach Libya, it put roughly $9 billion worth of America’s most prized military assets into the air. The bat-shaped black bombers, finely machined to elude radar and equipped with bombs weighing a ton apiece, easily demolished dozens of concrete aircraft shelters near Libya’s northern coast.
The Navy’s X-47B killer drone is about to get a lot more lethal. Nine months after the 38-foot long, bat-shaped flying robot took off from Edwards Air Force Base in California for its very first flight, the Navy has announced it will add an aerial refueling capability to at least one of the two X-47 prototypes sometime in 2014.
Offiziere.ch: Air Power’s Robotic Future: An Interview with Northrop Grumman’s Carl Johnson
The future of aerial warfare was on dramatic display on Feb. 4 at Edwards Air Force Base in California. At around 2:00 PM local time, a 38-foot-long, bat-shaped, jet-powered robotic aircraft lifted off from the runway and climbed to 5,000 feet. The Unmanned Aerial Vehicle orbited the airfield for 30 minutes before descending to a flawless, autonomous landing.
by DAVID AXE On Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. military possessed just handful of robot aircraft. Today, the Air Force alone operates more than 50 drone “orbits,” each composed of four Predator or Reaper aircraft plus their ground-based control systems and human operators. Smaller Navy, Marine and Army drones number in the thousands. Since they [...]
When the pilotless, wing-shaped warplane lifted off a runway at California’s Edwards Air Force Base for the first time on the morning of April 27, it was like the resurrection of the dead. The Boeing Phantom Ray — one of the most advanced drones ever built — came close to never flying at all.