Army tests spy blimp over New Jersey

An artist's rendering of the Army airship at Hangar 6 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, or LEMV, had its maiden voyage on Aug. 7, 2012.
An artist's rendering of the Army airship at Hangar 6 at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, or LEMV, had its maiden voyage on Aug. 7, 2012. (Courtesy of the U.S. Army)
Posted: August 10, 2012

The Army has followed the Navy in testing a new generation of blimps at the New Jersey military base where the Hindenberg infamously burst into flames in 1937.

The Army's $517 million spy blimp - a high-altitude observation platform, according to the manufacturer - had its maiden flight Tuesday at Ocean County's Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. (See video: http://ow.ly/cRi5E.)

The Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle, a 302-foot dirigible, can be manned or remote-controlled, according to Northrop Grumman.

For months, the Navy's MZ-3A, a manned 178-footer, has caught the eyes of folks from Philadelphia's suburbs to the Jersey Shore.

Such airships are of military interest because they can stay aloft for long periods and land without runways.

An unmanned 370-foot-long Air Force airship was canceled this year because of cost and technological reasons. It was hangared in North Carolina, when it was ordered dismantled in June.

The Army's helium-filled airship is 100 feet longer than the Goodyear Blimp.


Edward J. Colimore and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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