- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

One of the U.S. Army’s giant surveillance blimps will rise to 10,000 feet above Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland on Friday for a three-year test. A second aircraft will begin testing in January.

The Army’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS), which is built by Raytheon, will be tested for its ability to identify incoming enemy aircraft.

“This will enable senior defense officials to support a determination whether to transition JLENS capabilities to an enduring mission at the conclusion of the three-year operational exercise,” the North American Aerospace Defense Command said in a statement on Tuesday, military.com reported.

“If you’re a commander, you want as much advance warning as possible,” retired Army Brig. Gen. Keith McNamara, told Raytheon, Business Insider reported Wednesday. “You need to know where those missiles came from as quickly as possible so you can neutralize that launcher and prevent it from firing again.”

JLENS is capable of giving the army 360 degrees of defensive radar coverage and can stay in the air for up to one month at a time. The aircraft, which is filled with non-flammable gases, is roughly 80 yards long and can spot unmanned aircraft from up to 340 miles away, Raytheon says on its website.

NORAD said in its statement that the aircraft “cannot see people and do not have cameras onboard,” military.com reported.


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