Army to Deploy Anti-Missile/Surveillance Blimps over Washington D.C.
The U.S. military is preparing to deploy state-of-the-art blimps over Washington, DC, to provide early warning detection of missile attacks. The floating eyes-in-the-sky will also provide surveillance capabilities covering much of the eastern seaboard, all the way to Canada.
JLENS, manufactured by defense contractor Raytheon, is essentially a blimp 75 yards in length that carries sophisticated radar and lenses that can see 320 miles in any direction, while hovering about 10,000 feet above the earth.
Raytheon first tested JLENS over Utah, and is now sending the blimps to the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland for some additional work. After that, their next stop will be the nation’s capital, where the aircraft will be able to operate continuously without refueling for upwards of a month at a time.
JLENS was created to enable the military “to defend against threats including hostile cruise missiles, low-flying manned and unmanned aircraft, tactical ballistic missiles, large caliber rockets and moving surface vehicles such as boats, SCUD-launchers, automobiles and tanks,” according to Raytheon.
But civil libertarians have expressed concerns over the program, wondering if JLENS will only be employed against foreign enemies.
“When the government is conducting real-time aerial surveillance within the United States,” Marc Rotenberg of the Electronic Privacy Information Center told The Huffington Post, “there are privacy issues that need to be addressed.”
To Learn More:
Don’t Be Alarmed by the Drone Blimps Hovering Over D.C. They’re Here to Stop Cruise Missiles (by Brian Resnick, National Journal)
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