Second US airship launched in test of missile defense system

A United States Navy aeroplane about to land at the Incirlik Air Base, in the outskirts of the city of Adana, southern Turkey, Wednesday, July 29, 2015. Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said Wednesday, that an agreement allowing the U.S.-led coalition against the IS to launch airstrikes from Incirlik and other Turkish bases has been approved by Cabinet. Coalition forces could start using the bases “any moment,” Bilgic said. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

MIDDLE RIVER, Maryland (AP) — The U.S. military has launched the second of two helium-filled airships near Baltimore to test a missile defense system on the U.S. East Coast.

The confirmed launch Wednesday at the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground completes the aeronautical part of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, or JLENS.

The radar-equipped aerostats are tethered to concrete pads. They’re designed to float unmanned at 10,000 feet (3,000 meters).

During the three-year test, one balloon will continuously scan 360 degrees from New York state to North Carolina, and as far west as Ohio. The other carries precision radar to help the military on the ground pinpoint targets.

The aerostats don’t carry weapons. Enemy missiles would be destroyed by weapons launched from the air, the sea or the ground.

 

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