A pair of 243-foot surveillance balloons, lighter than air and tethered to the ground by strings, will fly above the Harford County military installation starting in September, according to news reports.
Flying over the Edgewood area at APG, the helium-filled blimps will be charged with detecting cruise missiles and other low-altitude threats in the region around the nation's capital, using radar. Similar surveillance programs were tested in Utah and New Mexico, according to APG's proposal.
Hovering 9,950 feet in the air, the blimps will reportedly be visible from Baltimore and have a range from North Carolina to Boston.
The plans do not currently include cameras on the blimps, but "there's nothing that bars us from having high-powered cameras monitoring our every public movement," an American Civil Liberties Union spokesman told CBS News.
What do you think—are the blimps a privacy concern? Tell us in the comments!
The installation of these balloons called "aerostats" is supposed to fix a gap in the nation's security against cruise missiles from other countries offshore, CBS News reported.
Blimps like these are used in Iraq and Afghanistan, along the southern border in the United States and on the Gaza Strip, according to The Washington Post.
The Army said it did not plan to share the blimps with law enforcement agencies "but declined to rule out its future use," WJZ reported.
The Washington Post said privacy advocates are concerned about what one called "part of this trend we’ve seen since 9/11, which is the turning inward of all of these surveillance technologies."
Despite the reported concerns, a public hearing about the project last week in Baltimore County with the Army Corps of Engineers and Maryland Department of the Environment was "sparsely attended" according to The Baltimore Sun, which reported that no members of the public commented about the endeavor.
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