By the end of the year, there will likely be two giant Army blimps hovering 10,000 feet above Baltimore with the ability to see 340 miles in any direction. Most forms of surveillance have weaknesses: If they’re ground-based, they have range limitations.
Predator drones have to refuel and don’t have the ability to hover in one spot. Helicopters are really loud and generally have to fly pretty low. That’s where JLENS comes in.
It’s a giant, 243-foot long blimp that’s tethered to the ground. It has ridiculously powerful radar and cameras. It pretty much doesn’t have to move, and it only has to land once a month or so for quick maintenance. Yes, that means the entire mid-Atlantic region will, at least, have the potential to be under “persistent surveillance,” a dream term for those in the intelligence biz and a worst-case scenario for those who care a lick about privacy.
One aerostat that was tested in Utah last year was able to follow individual vehicles “dozens of miles away” and watch a test subject plant a fake bomb on the side of the road. According to the Washington Post, the Army has “no current plans” to use that high-powered video sensor in Maryland, but wouldn’t rule out using it in the future.
(via A Giant Military Surveillance Blimp Is Going to Constantly Monitor the East Coast)