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Military airships getting a Baltimore-area test

By DAVID DISHNEAU

Associated Press

The U.S. military is testing a new cruise-missile defense system by launching a blimp-like airship near Baltimore.

Wednesday's event at Aberdeen Proving Ground gives the region its first look at JLENS, short for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.

By February, two helium-filled airships will be tethered to concrete pads four miles apart, floating 10,000 feet high for the three-year test.

Radar on one ship will scan in a 340-mile radius, roughly from Norfolk, Virginia, to upstate New York. Controllers on the ground will use radar on the other vehicle to pinpoint targets. The airships won't carry weapons.

The military says the balloons also won't carry cameras. But privacy advocates are leery of the system's ability to constantly monitor moving objects, including cars on the ground.
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