Agency Tests Security Blimp in Washington: Pentagon police said the Defense Department is testing a security blimp - fully equipped with surveillance cameras. The white blimp was spotted early Wednesday morning hovering at various times over the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. The 178-foot-long device, which is expected to remain in the skies until Thursday, is conducting a mission for the Defense Department.

Authorities say the airship is equipped with infrared cameras designed to provide real time images to military commanders on the ground. The equipment on the blimp already is being used to protect troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Army says the device will make at least one 24-hour flight in the District of Columbia area. It has been in the region since last week, and is also being used for test runs over the U.S. Marine Corps Base in nearby Quantico, Va., and the Chesapeake Bay.

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37 Responses:

  1. vample says:

    Just got back in after taking the dog around the block 10 min ago and saw the blimp float by and wondering who'd gotten permission to fly that thing by the White House. JWZ, my source for local news.

  2. lars_larsen says:

    What happens when it gets really windy? What exactly are they going to see that is terror related? I'd guess they'd mostly just see crack dealers.

  3. fzou says:

    Sure, some Americans like to think that their values are shared the world over, but uh, the weather? This baby had better have some funky electronic chameleon-like skin that lets it blend in with the rest of the sky.

    I hope that the U.N. gets a baby blue version.

  4. daeley says:

    Best. Headline. Ever. :)

  5. bdu says:

    Channeling their german ideological forefathers, homeland security officers were said to have replied, "ja, sind zeppelins sehr gut!"

  6. jarodrussell says:

    What I want to know is if it's sensors (cameras specifically) are public domain. That'd be awesome to take a tour of DC via the NSA's blimp.

    • jwz says:

      I'm gonna go ahead and guess "no." Just because you paid for it doesn't mean you get to benefit from it.

  7. guyver3 says:

    The Moffet hangars will be abuzz with activity, dusting off the blimps of legend, defending our pacific coast against pirates and tyranny of seals.

  8. infrogmation says:

    Well then.

    Living in a police state won't be all bad if we get to have lots more blimps.

  9. chrisg says:

    So how long before these blimps start broadcasting propaganda over loudspeakers and huge signs on the side? (I'm vaguely reminded of the game Syndicate for that, but I could be wrong).

  10. ammitbeast says:

    Eh. They're just jumping on the retro-future, give-us-our-skycars, Gernsback Continuum bandwagon. Where's the original Tomorrowland when you need it?

  11. shigawire says:

    Apart from my first thought that the thing was a test to see if the Good Year Blimp could take out the Washington Monument, wouldn't predator drones be a bit less obvious, and harder to shoot down?

    • simmonmt says:

      If someone's going to waste their time trying to shoot down the blimp (are there any wire-guided ground-to-air missiles?), that's less time they have to try to shoot something else.

      My guess is that they exist for much the same reason that police helicopters exist. They have the advantage over copters in that they can carry more cargo/equipment, and can hover longer, but at the same time they're not nearly as mobile. So perhaps not as useful over someplace like LA where you've got a huge amount of space to cover, but much more useful in DC, where you have a few high-value targets that aren't likely to move.

  12. rzr_grl says:


    /me hides.

  13. xenogram says:

    Hah-ha! What can those filthy terrorists hope to do against such high-tech wizardry.

  14. quercus says:

    I for one am deeply concerned about our inflatable non-constitutional overlords.

  15. dcdan says:

    Since DC is now is a tizzy over having to name a baseball team, I think we (I'm a DC resident) should have a blimp naming contest as well, the obivious choice is the Der Hindenburg, but perhaps, we, like the Congress could whore the ballons out, Blimpie Subs is your marketing department listening?

  16. baconmonkey says:

    you can get your own DNA Blimp and help yer girlie overcome her fear for only 10 mil.