Military firm Raytheon has unveiled a controversial surveillance blimp that can spot a person 340 miles away. The news is that the US Army has already bought two. One is being piloted over Maryland. It is yet unknown how US plans to use the second.
A pair of blimps fly at altitude of 10,000 ft above sea level. They can hover at one place without the need to refuel for as long as 30 days. This, hence, enables to take defensive measures against any low flying manned and unmanned aircraft, boats, missile launchers and tanks detected from as far as 340 miles away. JLENS is much cheaper than running constant Predator drones. They don’t need to focus on one target at a time. According to Raytheon, it can “track hundreds of airborne and surface moving threats, in 360 degrees.”
Blimps also find their use to catch illegal immigrants.
However, the privacy advocates see the machine with a different perspective. They worry that the blimps with their high resolution cameras can be used to monitor the movements of civilians, since there are no defined rules!
The blimp seems to be part of the trend seen since 9/11, which has set the quest for surveillance technologies on fire.
The US Army, however, insisted that, ‘The primary mission… is to track airborne objects. Its secondary mission is to track surface moving objects such as vehicles or boats. The capability to track surface objects does not extend to individual people.’