Sometimes it feels like I'm already living in the future. The U.S Army's Space and Missile Defense command plans to have an unmanned spy-ship capable of loitering at 20,000-feet (for up to three weeks) ready to deploy by mid-2011.

Dubbed the Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), the craft will be based on Lockheed Martin's P-791 experimental hybrid airship, which you can see in the video below. The smaller P-791 was 125-foot long, but flew six tests in 2006. It's known as a hybrid because only 80% of its lift comes from buoyancy; the other 20% comes from three downward thrusters on each side.

As for the LEMV: a 40-foot long, 15-foot wide area behind the only sometimes-manned cockpit will carry intelligence systems, like radar and wide-area motion sensors, that will beam information back to commanders on the ground.

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Totally makes me think of Aeon Flux or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Crazy.
[Aviation Week via The Register]