Published: 29/03/2013 17:00 - Updated: 29/03/2013 12:33

Inflated hopes for Bedfordshire airship manufacturer

Written byRUPERT MARQUAND

GROUNDED: The LEMV airship which is now disused GROUNDED: The LEMV airship which is now disused

AN airship manufacturer which sold an aircraft to the US Army as part of a $500bn contract wants to buy it back after it the army stopped using it.

The 400 foot long airship, designed by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) in Cranfield, was first flown in New Jersey in August 2012 but when defence budget cuts hit the US Army it was decided it would be dismantled.

HAV are now trying to purchase back the ship, known as a Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), so it can be used for testing and product development.

Hardy Giesler, spokesman for HAV, said: “We were very aware of the impact of the US Army cuts but in many ways it’s opened up a fantastic opportunity for us.

“We started work on new airship in 2011 and it would be helpful to have a physical aircraft to use for testing.

“It will shorten the time scale for development and there’s no real substitute for the real thing.”

HAV and Northrop Grumman, a specialist in defence equipment, signed the $500bn contract with the US Army in 2010 for the production of three of the surveillance airships.

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