The US Army’s long endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) ship will be ready for first flight in mid 2011.

The LEMV airship being built by Northrop, is based on UK firm Hybrid Air Vehicles’ HAV304 and is designed to take off in a heavier-than-air condition for combat in areas like Afghanistan, according to The Register.

The unmanned airship, which will be longer than a football field and taller than a seven-storey building will remain airborne for more than three weeks at a time and carry multiple spyeye surveillance payloads at 20,000ft.

Northrop is under a $517m LEMV deal to build three ships for the US Army Space and Missile Defence Command.