On December 22, 2014, eyes gazed to the sky over Washington, DC, as a new security blimp was launched by the United States Army. The blimp will remain in the sky indefinitely. The massive white blimp can be seen from all parts of Washington and many of the surrounding states. The blimp flies 10,000 feet in the air and has the capability of detecting cruise missiles and other possible airborne threats such as drones.
According to statements by the US Army, the balloon can double the effective range of ground radars. Tethered blimps that are used for radar purposes are referred to as Aerostats.
NORAD is one of many government companies working on the technology present inside the balloon. NORAD stated, “the blimp will increase decision time available to respond efficiently and accurately for the defense of the National Capital Region.” The balloon does not have any firing capabilities itself, however; with the advanced notice of incoming threats, proper action can be taken much sooner.
The blimp spans 242 feet from front to back. The balloon is attached to the ground using a cable that is proven to withstand winds of up to 100 miles per hour. According to representatives from NORAD, the balloon will not impede commercial air traffic due to close discussions with the FAA.
Many citizens have claimed that they believe the blimp has the possibility of violating their security even though NORAD and the US Army claim that no cameras are fitted upon the balloon. American citizens have no reason not to believe NORAD as of now; however, large amounts of skepticism remain present for the future of the project.
NORAD has long been known for their advanced technologies to track Santa Claus. NORAD stated, “We fully intend to take the information gathered by the system and use it to track Santa.”