Civic News

Another surveillance blimp launches over Baltimore

The surveillance system being tested at Aberdeen Proving Ground now features not one aerostat, but two.

The first JLENS aerostat, before it was launched above Baltimore.

(Photo courtesy of Raytheon Corporation)

On a clear day, the blimp that flies over Aberdeen Proving Ground has become a ubiquitous site from Baltimore city for anyone looking to the northeast.
This week, the blimps are multiplying.
The initial blimp is the visible part of JLENS, a detection system for enemy aircraft being tested by the U.S. Army and defense contractor Raytheon. But before it is fully operational, the system requires a second blimp. A twin is being tested this week.


The second aircraft, which is actually called an aerostat because it is tethered to the ground, will be the same 70-by-250-foot size and fly at the same 10,000-foot altitude as the existing blimp. The new aircraft is about three miles from the first blimp, said Maj. Kat Andrews, an Air Force spokeswoman.
“They’re working in tandem,” Andrews said Wednesday morning.
Andrews said crews launched the second aerostat for a few hours on Tuesday, with more test launches coming Wednesday and Thursday.
Both blimps are equipped with radar that’s designed to detect cruise missiles, drones or other potential enemy threats to East Coast airspace, and can patrol from southern Virginia to upstate New York. The billion-dollar JLENS system shares information with NORAD, which can then relay information to other branches of the military.
Army officials have said the blimps are not equipped with cameras or video, and “cannot detect people.”
It can, apparently, “urinate,” according to this parody account:

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