The United States Army will soon launch two super-massive blimps over Maryland.
Just when you think the United States of America couldn’t go any further at invading our privacy, it goes ahead and proves you wrong. As a last ditch attempt at proving that the 18-year-long $2.8-billion Army project intended to use giant airships to defend against cruise missile wasn’t a massive failure, the army is expected to let loose two lighter-than-air airships in just a few days’ time.
Interestingly, the blimps aren’t expected or capable of staving off a barrage of enemy missiles, but their ability to spot and track cars, trucks and boats hundreds of miles away is quite unnerving to the population that resides and works below. Technically considered aerostats, since they are tethered to mooring stations, these lighter-than-air vehicles will hover at a height of 10,000 feet just off Interstate 95, about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., and about 20 miles from Baltimore, reported RT. In simpler terms, a powerful set of eyes and ears will be able to monitor what’s happening from North Carolina to Boston.
Built by the Raytheon Company, the blimps operate as a pair. One provides omnipresent tactile and high-resolution 360-degree radar coverage up to 340 miles. The other blimp can focus on specific threats and provide targeting information. In simpler terms, one blimp acts as a watchdog, while the other can zero-in on the targets identified by the first one. The project is called JLENS – or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.”
As for the size of these blimps, they are 80 yards (243 feet) long and their total volume is somewhere around 600,000 cubic feet. In essence, each blimp could easily accommodate about three Goodyear blimps within itself.
Army officials have assured that the JLENS blimps won’t be used for monitoring anything else but missiles and perhaps boats. Moreover, it has confirmed that these blimps won’t have any cameras, for now. Raytheon too, has assured that the JLENS won’t or rather can’t be used to spy on individuals.
Nonetheless, a couple of omnipresent blimps hovering above you could be unnerving to many and that precisely could be the desired effect, speculated Ed Herlik, a former Air Force officer and technology analyst with a particular interest in airships,
“It’s not just their ability to document what they see that’s so valuable; it’s the psychological effect. If you put a camera in a sky over an area where you expect a lot of unrest, the area will calm down,”
Do you think such blimps could be deployed as enforcers of peace and not for surveillance?
[Image Credit | John Hamilton/DVIDS, Raytheon]