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Friday, August 9, 2013

U.S. Military Revives Blimp Technology

The U.S. military is looking to 18th century technology to meet 21st century threats.

Starting next year, people in the Maryland area will see two giant blimps the size of football fields tethered to the ground. They’re called aerostats.

“They do not carry people — the operators, the soldiers, are on the ground operating the system,” project manager Doug Burgess of defense contractor Raytheon told Here & Now. “The two aerostats do stay aloft for long periods of time and carry very sophisticated radars developed by Raytheon.”

The aerostats have a visibility range about the size of Texas, according to Burgess.

In the 1700s, the French military put scouts in balloons to watch for advancing troops. These aerostats will be looking for missiles.

But people are wondering what else they’ll be watching.

Guest

  • Doug Burgess, JLENS program director at Raytheon, the company that developed aerostats.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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