Cruise Missile-Detecting Blimp Stands Ready for U.S. Military Use

Following 10 years of development, a U.S. Army blimp designed to detect cruise missile threats is ready for use -- provided someone can afford it.

The Army presently has two operational Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor Systems, Defense News reported on Sunday. One of the blimps is in "strategic reserve," meaning it can be fielded to any combatant command that has the funds to utilize the system. The other blimp is just about to start a three-year trial period at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., where it will be used to keep tabs on ground, sea and air traffic in the Washington-Baltimore region.

While the so-called "JLENS" system has previously shown in testing that it is capable of detecting and monitoring multiple moving air-, land- and sea-based objects, demonstrating that capability again above the National Capital Region will be a more difficult challenge as there is significantly greater electronic-signals activity in the area.

The tethered blimp floats at altitudes of up to 10,000 feet and has 360-degree radar capability to search for enemy cruise missiles, jets and unmanned aerial vehicles at distances as far as 340 miles.

The Raytheon-produced JLENS system has also demonstrated an ability to detect and monitor tactical ballistic missiles in their early liftoff phase.

"By putting JLENS in strategic reserve, the Army is giving combatant commanders around the globe the ability to pick up the phone and, in short order, receive this incredible air defense capability in their area of responsibility," said David Gulla, Raytheon's vice president of Global Integrated Sensors, in provided comments.

June 30, 2014
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Following 10 years of development, a U.S. Army blimp designed to detect cruise missile threats is ready for use -- provided someone can afford it.

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