First US Army mis­sile-fight­ing radar blimp air­borne to de­fend Wash­ing­ton DC


For the first time, the US Army lofted a blimp equipped with a new cruise­mis­sile and drone-fight­ing radar sys­tem high above ru­ral Maryland. The sys­tem, made by Raytheon Company and known as JLENS, con­sists of two he­lium-filled aerostats, or teth­ered blimps, that float 10,000 feet above the ground and carry pow­er­ful radars.

“JLENS is strate­gi­cally em­placed to help de­fend Wash­ing­ton DC and a Texas-sized por­tion of the East Coast from cruise mis­siles, drones and hos­tile air­craft,” said Dave Gulla, Vice Pres­i­dent of Raytheon In­te­grated De­fense Sys­tems’ Global In­te­grated Sen- sors business. “JLENS can de­tect po­ten­tial threats at ex­tremely long ranges, giv­ing North Amer­i­can Aero­space De­fense Com­mand more time to make de­ci­sions and more space to re­act ap­pro­pri­ately.”

As part of the de­ploy­ment, Raytheon en­gi­neers raised one of the foot­ball-field sized aerostats thou­sands of feet in the air and con­ducted a se­ries of tests to en­sure it was op­er­at­ing as de­signed. The company will con­tinue to test and in­te­grate the radar for sev­eral more days, then turn the first JLENS bal­loon over to Sol­diers of the US Army’s A Bat­tery, 3rd Air De­fense Ar­tillery.

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