If you visit the Washington, D.C. area in coming years and see a pair of large blimp hovering high overhead, there’s a good chance they won’t belong to Goodyear.
Instead, they could well belong to the Pentagon, which is in the late stages of testing a new program that was designed to deploy blimps over the nation’s capital as a form of anti-missile defense. Raytheon, the program’s lead contractor, said Wednesday it has completed one of last major milestones necessary for real-world deployment.
Known as JLENS, or Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (PDF), the program involves putting a Raytheon-designed radar system on board a pair of 74-foot-high tethered airships, a system that is being pitched as matching the surveillance abilities of five spy planes, but with half the manpower and at a cost 700 percent less.
Raytheon said that JLENS could help the military defend Washington — or anywhere else that it is deployed — against threats such as tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, hostile drones, swarming boats, and mine-laying ships, among others. The system, which is supposed to be able to stay at an altitude of 10,000 feet for 30 days, has an on-board “over-the-horizon” sensor package designed to scan hundreds of miles for those threats.
Full article: Look! Up in the sky! It’s an antimissile blimp! (C|Net)