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DC's New Protectors? Blimps
Two will begin radar patrols within a year
By John Johnson, Newser Staff | Suggested by Bongripper420
Posted Aug 1, 2013 6:04 PM CDT
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(Newser) – At some point within the next year, DC will get a missile shield of sorts—courtesy of two white blimps. Made by defense contractor Raytheon, the $2.7 billion blimps will float 10,000 feet above the city and use their high-tech surveillance systems to keep an eye out for cruise missiles, ballistic missiles, enemy aircraft, even a swarm of boats, reports Popular Mechanics. The testing phase is over, and the entire JLENS operation is being shipped to the military's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. (Best quote from the program director about the young soldiers involved: "Their adaptation to it based on their experience with video games and Xbox helped them to relate to this very sophisticated radar operation system.")

Blimps were used to protect cities during World War II, notes Brian Resnick at the Atlantic, but the JLENS blimps—technically called aerostats—are a whole new breed. Those blimps of old "acted as fence posts for a spool of wire that would make it difficult for planes to maneuver in the city," writes Resnick. "Basically, they were barbed wire fences suspended a few thousand feet in the air." The modern ones will perform a similar function, sans physical wire. The price tag may seem steep, but the system will provide constant surveillance that would be far more expensive with planes, adds Adam Clark Estes at Gizmodo. "And who knows? They might be able to pitch in some aerial photography for Redskins games."

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Showing 3 of 87 comments
HMD-SMD-ITY
Aug 14, 2013 12:32 AM CDT
Its been at least 30 years, but remember the table top exercise where terrorists stole a ship filled with gasoline and then sailed it into the East River near the Brooklyn Bridge? They make demands relevant to the political climate of the time and era. Officials then notice a large gasoline slick forming on around the ship. It is evident that they are draining down the gas in the hold. Chemists get involved and determine that they would not want to explode a full cargo of gas. They would want to drain it down to around 1/4 and thus leave enough room for oxygen and then detonate the vapors. They estimated it would set most of the financial district on fire. Who knew terror would rein from above instead in a scenario emailed to president Clinton in his last year.
sqhunter
Aug 3, 2013 1:35 PM CDT
Enough hot air floating around Washington D C with Obama-Biden and their congress these days-now blimps? What are these things protecting? More hot air and lies rising up from the white house?
Observer
Aug 3, 2013 12:50 PM CDT
What an ungodly waste of huge money. A "swarm of boats"? I'd be laughing if this wasn't such bullshit. Buy Ratheon stock. What will the upkeep be on these spy tools.