The US Army has resurrected interest in buying a long-endurance hybrid airship to be used on surveillance missions in Afghanistan, and has issued military contractors with a request for proposals.
A request for proposal for the long-endurance multi-intelligence vehicle (LEMV) contract is scheduled to be issued by Space and Missile Defense Command on 29 January 2010.
The request outlines that the aircraft could be optionally manned but should be able to fly for up to three weeks with multiple intelligence payload of up to 1,134kg at speeds of up to 80kt.
Following the initial 18 month-performance tests by the army, the airship will be deployed to Afghanistan for the next 3.5 years.
The National Defence Industrial Association (NDIA) has formed a consortium to support the LEMV project, which has already shown interest in Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works prototype P791hybrid airship.
The US Army says it will spend up to $76m on the LEMV acquisition process in FY 2010.