Dirigibles are not just a thing of the past. In fact, the U.S. Army is testing 242-foot-long helium-filled airships, commonly known as dirigibles, which are designed to give field commanders a bird’s-eye view of cruise missiles and other threats.
Information regarding these tests is provided in an Associated Press article updated 4/30/10 and carried on foxnews.com entitled: ‘Army Investing in Robot Balloons.’
According to Associated Press, most of the tests will be conducted in military air space above the Snake Valley in Utah during the next several years, although some test flights are scheduled over the northern part of Great Salt Lake.
Further reported in the article was information about radar-equipped aerostats that, from more than a mile above the ground, will provide sweeping 360-degree views of the landscape for more than 100 miles.
This AP report about the tests on the robot balloons states: ‘”It’s a great mix of old and new technologies,” said Lt. Col. Steve Willhelm, manager of the program known as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.’
The Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) is more fully described on a website on fas.org which is about the Space Policy Project.
A printable 20 page pamphlet from the Department of the Army is available for those who want to know more about the JLENS.
The pamphlet discusses today’s capability to defeat threat land attack cruise missiles; explores the complexity of the problem; describes how JLENS is a key part of the joint service solution for land attack cruise missile defense; and highlights both our implementation strategy and the challenges ahead.
JLENS information is available on raytheon.com.
Another source of information is globalsecurity.org.
The price tag?
Information made available on 11/18/05 on defenseindustrydaily.com carried this headline: ‘JLENS Ramps Up Hard: Raytheon wins $1.3B Contract.’
Army dirigibles will be playing an important role in the defense capability of the United States if the tests show that they can perform satisfactorily. They do seem to be an interesting mix of old and new technologies as expressed by Lt. Col. Steve Willhelm, manager of the program known as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.
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