MIDDLE RIVER, Md. -- The Army showed off a blimp-like airship Wednesday that is designed to help the military detect and destroy cruise missiles speeding toward the nation's capital or other major East Coast cities.

The radar-toting vehicle will be launched next week as part of a three-year test of the system at Aberdeen Proving Ground, about 25 miles northeast of Baltimore.

When fully deployed next spring, the system will feature two, unmanned, helium-filled aerostats, tethered to concrete pads 4 miles apart. They'll float at an altitude of 10,000 feet, about one-third as high as a commercial airliner's cruising altitude.
So we now have a Cruise Missile threat for the East Coast? Interesting.

nostalgia time?


Moving on...

The white balloons, each 80 yards long, are part of a new wave of lighter-than-air surveillance equipment. The government also has deployed tethered airships near the Mexican border, in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the Caribbean Ocean to combat drug smuggling.

The airships at Aberdeen will be the first of their type near a major East Coast city, visible from Interstate 95.

The military said the balloons won't carry cameras but David Rocah of the American Civil Liberties Union in Maryland said privacy advocates were leery of the airships' ability to constantly monitor moving objects, including cars on the ground.

Bramhall said the radar can't identify individuals or record cellphone conversations.

"The mission is not to spy on U.S. citizens. It is not designed for that," he said.

Funny, that's exactly what they did in Iraq.