Pentagon Plans to Launch 2 Blimp-like Aircraft in the Skies Above D.C.; Says They Won’t be Used for Spying

FILE 2012: A Raytheon Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System aerostat is pictured on the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.
FILE 2012: A Raytheon Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System aerostat is pictured on the White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico.

The Pentagon plan to deploy two large blimplike aircraft 10,000 feet into the sky about 45 miles northeast of Washington, D.C., has raised new privacy concerns even though the Army says there is nothing to be worried about.

The aircraft was described as aerostats, which means they are lighter than air while being tethered to the ground, The Washington Post reported. These aircraft have been employed in Iraq, Afghanistan and on the Mexican border because they can be equipped with radars and high-altitude surveillance systems that are capable of spotting flying objects up to 340 miles away. These systems are militarily valuable because they are capable of tracking low-flying missiles and movement on the ground.

The $2.7-billion Maryland project is reportedly set to begin in October and span three years on the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground in suburban Baltimore. The project’s intended goal is to detect any low-flying missiles or enemy aircraft that might be headed to the capital, the report said.

Raythoen, a defense contractor, said last year that these aerostats can carry powerful surveillance systems capable of tracking people and vehicles from miles away, the report said. The Army, though it did not rule out the possibility of mounting these cameras, reportedly said it has no current plans to install them.

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SOURCE: Fox News