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Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV)

The Army has deployed several tethered aerostats, including the Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) and the JLENS Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) system. A new hybrid airship weapons system, just larger than the length of a football field, will take to the skies to provide an unblinking, persistent eye for more than three weeks at a time to aid US Army troops in Afghanistan. Northrop Grumman Corporation was awarded on June 14, 2010 a $517 million agreement to develop up to three Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) systems for the US Army. Northrop Grumman has designed a system with plug-and-play capability to readily integrate into the Army's existing common ground station command centers and ground troops in forward operating bases - the main objective to provide US warfighters with persistent ISR capability to increase awareness of the ever changing battlefield.

LEMV will sustain altitudes of 20,000 feet for a three-week period, and it will operate within national and international airspace. It will be forward-located to support extended geostationary operations from austere operating locations using beyond-line-of-sight command and control.

Northrop Grumman teamed with Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd. of the United Kingdom using its HAV304 platform, Warwick Mills, ILC Dover, AAI Corporation, SAIC, and a team of technology leaders from 18 US states to build LEMV. Northrop Grumman will provide system integration expertise and flight and ground control operations to safely take off and land the unmanned vehicle for worldwide operations.

The Hybrid Air Vehicles, Ltd. SkyCat 50 is the next size in a range of Hybrid Air Vehicles ranging up to 1,000 tonnes payload capacity. The vehicles derive their flight capability from a mix of aerodynamic lift and helium buoyancy. Laminated fabric construction hull with internal catenary system supporting the payload module. The hull's aerodynamic shape, an elliptical cross-section allied to a cambered longitudinal shape, provides up to 40% of the vehicle's lift. The internal diaphragms required to support this shape allow for a limited amount of compartmentalisation further enhancing the fail-safe nature of the vehicle. Mulitiple ballonents located fore and aft in each of the outer hulls provide pressure control.

In 2010 the United States (US) Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) received approval, subject to Congressional notification, to competitively enter into an Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) for a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV) under the authority of Section 845 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 1994, Public Law 103-160, as amended (Title 10 United States Code (USC) Section 2371 note).

OTA's under Section 845 are exempt from many federal acquisition regulations and processes with the intent of fostering the participation of companies that do not traditionally do business with the Department of Defense. Lockheed Martin planned to bid. Northrop Grumman also planned to bid, and was expected to team with one of the interested airship builders, which include the UK's Hybrid Air Vehicles, Aeros and others.

LEMV has replaced the Persius (Persistent Elevated Reconnaissance Surveillance Intelligence Unmanned System), which was planned as a FY2009 joint capability technology demonstration. Persius was to be awarded to Lockheed Martin Skunk Works, to build a version of its P-791 proof-of-concept hybrid airship, which flew in January 2006.

The anticipated LEMV OTA will be for a five year technology demonstration inclusive of the fabrication of a LEMV airship, integration of payload and ancillary systems, test, and support for five years. The schedule requires performance testing within 18 months followed by additional test and demonstration conducted in Afghanistan over the remaining OTA term. The basic performance requirements for the LEMV airship include: optionally unmanned; 3 week endurance; 2500 pound payload capability; operating altitude of 20,000 feet above mean sea level, 16 kilowatts of payload power ; multi-intelligence capable; supportable from austere locations; 80 knot dash speed and 20 knot station keep speed.

The LEMV shall be un-tethered and unmanned. The LEMV shall also provide ground control operator support to safely take off and land the vehicle line of sight (LOS). The LEMV shall have the ability to be optionally manned for self-deployment (CONUS operations). The LEMV shall be deployable and sustainable at a nominal altitude of 20,000 feet above Mean Sea Level (MSL). Capable of flying missions with weather avoidance and within national and international airspace. The LEMV shall be able to forward deploy to support extended operations from austere, forward operating locations with a goal of flying 2500 statute mile roundtrip missions using beyond line of sight (BLOS) command and control.

The airship shall provide a payload bay and supporting airship structure to carry a minimum capacity of 5,000 lbs. (accommodates lower altitude flights as low as 10,000 feet MSL). The payload bay may use multiple compartments that physically separates the payloads. The airship shall provide means to attach payloads related components, e.g., antennas, to airship locations (up to eight) other than the payload bay, as determined for best operational payload performance. The LEMV shall provide a minimum power of 16 kW dedicated to the payload. The payload shall be capable of being recovered intact in the event of an airship failure. If airship control is lost and the payload comes down within hostile territory, interfaces shall be in place to allow autonomous and remote destruction (or zeroed out/hardware destruction) of the payload to prevent enemy capture if required by the government.

The Counter Insurgency (COIN) Configuration supports the Counter-IED and Clear-Hold-Build missions by providing reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition capabilities and communications packages to supported units and intelligence collection for the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB) process of supported units.

Imagery Mission Sensor Suite Elements

" EO/IR Full Motion Video (qty 4)

" SIGINT (classified payload)

" Day/Night (multi-spectral) Imager to classify and/or identify dismounts detected by other LEMV sensors (qty 1)

" Day/Night (multi-spectral) Wide Area Motion Imagery Sensors sufficient to track all vehicles within a 100 km2 area and/or all dismounts within a 25km2 area. (Note, area sizes are objective.)

" Communications package

" Acoustic sensors

The payload sensor capabilities will have redundancy and/or sufficient operational availability commensurate with the aircrafts endurance capability. The motion imagery will be in compliance with currently fielded and developmental digital motion imagery (MI) implementations within DOD, Intelligence community and National Geospatial intelligence Agency (NGA).

GMTI will include a near-real-time (NRT) dissemination capability to a Ground Control Station (GCS) terminal(s) to be deployed in the AO with subsequent dissemination via Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS). SIGINT will include a SATCOM data link and NRT dissemination to classified networks. Imagery sensors will include a line of sight (LOS) NRT dissemination capability to supported units and LEMV sensor operators. FMV sensor(s) will include a LOS NRT dissemination capability to supported units [including the One System Remote Video Terminal, the FMV sensor ground terminal and exploitation suite, and subsequent BLOS dissemination through Digital Video Broadcasting Return Channel Via Satellite (DVB-RCS) systems]. Acoustic sensors will include a LOS dissemination capability to supported units, and LEMV sensor operators. Wide Area Motion Imagery sensor will include NRT exploitation of all recorded data to track vehicle/persons forwards and backwards in time via a LOS data link.

The LEMV is an autonomous, long-endurance platform that is to enable continuous over-the-horizon communications, wide-area surveillance and protection to support theater operations without interruption in urban and mountainous terrain. Its unique performance characteristics can potentially supplant the use of otherwise unaffordable combinations of such assets as those of conventional ground, air, space, and UAVs.

Each individual LEMV can provide up to 173 statute miles line-of-sight at 20,000 ft MSL for target reconnaissance, intelligence, surveillance, and other missions in support of the battlefield commander. The objective LEMV system can provide capabilities to many applications. Candidate missions for objective LEMV systems could include: Theater Support

Optical/radar surveillance (horizontal/upward viewing)

Broadband data relay of beacon, sensor, lasercom, C2, and intelligence information to various level headquarter units

Intelligence sensors

Utility (flight test support; experimental use of new optical/radar subsystems, communication equipment, and Intel sensors; and test of new airship subsystems)

Civil Applications

Wireless telecommunication (receive/transmit, relay, range extension)

FAA communication range-extension relay, transponder radar beacon adjunct

BLM land / NOAA / EPA surveys

Homeland Security

Real-time multi-band persistent area surveillance (horizontal/downward viewing)

Border patrol

Counter terrorism operations

Drug smuggling operations

Communications linking and relay

Space Mission Areas

Space Force Enhancement

C4, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance


Position/Navigation Augmentation

Space Force Application - Targeting & weapons

Candidate missions for this LEMV demonstration system could include:

1. Counter-IED

2. Clear Hold Build

3. Border Surveillance

4. Reconnaissance Surveillance Target Acquisition / Force Protection (RSTA/FP)

5. Communications relay for UHF/VHF Voice Net

6. Broadband data relay

Specific payload equipment that supports one or more of these missions is to be selected by the Government and demonstrated during the program. The platform will carry both classified and sensitive but unclassified (SBU) sensors.

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Page last modified: 28-07-2011 00:49:55 ZULU