In an effort to assist U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Army has commissioned a company to develop a surveillance airship that's longer than a football field. According to Space.com, Northrop Grumman Corp. recently received a $517 million contract from the Army
to build as many as three Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicles (LEMV), which
can carry 2,500-pounds while hovering 20,000-feet above sea level at a whopping 34 mph. Technically, an LEMV isn't a blimp, so the Bullet 580 still holds the title as the world's largest
. The LEMV is actually a hybrid airship that uses a combination of thrusters and lighter-than-air gas to remain aloft.
These LEMVs should take flight by the end of 2011, and the airships' main purpose will be to provide long-term surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance for the U.S. Army in the Middle East. [From: Space.com
, via: Geekosystem