The First Zeppelin in Washington DC's New Missile Shield is Aloft

By Adam Clark Estes on at

After years of anticipation, the United States Army has finally floated the first of two football field-sized Zeppelins that will serve as a missile shield for Washington DC. The tethered, helium-filled aerostat is equipped with anti-missile and anti-drone radar to protect the US capital from attacks. It also looks like a cartoon.

There's nothing cartoonish about the so-called JLENS system, however. "JLENS is strategically emplaced to help defend Washington D.C. and a Texas-sized portion of the East Coast from cruise missiles, drones and hostile aircraft," said Dave Gulla, a vice president of Raytheon who built the system. "JLENS can detect potential threats at extremely long ranges, giving North American Aerospace Defense Command more time to make decisions and more space to react appropriately."

The second blimp is set to be deployed in early 2015. Both blimps will float 10,000 feet above the ground, where they'll undergo further testing before being officially handed over to the Army. And just in case we ever need it, Raytheon has another JLENS system in storage, ready to be deployed anywhere in the world. [Raytheon]

Image via AP