By Jason Sherman / February 1, 2011 at 9:59 PM

Northrop Grumman today issued a press release touting a successful critical design review of the Long Endurance Multi Intelligence Vehicle, the hybrid airship it is tricking out with sensors for the Army. In December, Inside the Army's Debbie Siegelbaum reported that the LEMV program -- which aims to build three airships with 21-day persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities -- cleared that hurdle in mid-November.

Alan Metzger, Northrop Grumman vice president and integrated program team leader of LEMV and airship programs, reiterated in today's statement much of what he told ITA last month about LEMV, an airship longer than a football field and higher than a seven-story building:

There are three upcoming major milestones in the next 10 months. We'll have hull inflation in the spring and first flight of the airship test article by mid-to-late summer. Upon completion of the development ground and flight testing phase, we expect to transition to a government facility and conduct our final acceptance long endurance flight just before year's end. In early 2012, LEMV will participate in an Army Joint Military Utility Assessment in an operational environment. As you can imagine, it's a very aggressive schedule to deliver from concept-to-combat in this time period.