Could Aberdeen's Surveillance Blimps Spy on Everyday People?

Blimps like these are reportedly used in Iraq and Afghanistan, along the southern border in the United States and on the Gaza Strip.

Blimps called "aerostats" because they are lighter than air will be installed at APG in September. (Credit: APG/DOD)
Blimps called "aerostats" because they are lighter than air will be installed at APG in September. (Credit: APG/DOD)
Much of what happens at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) is under wraps, but public knowledge that blimps will be installed there this fall has some concerned about privacy.

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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John January 25, 2014 at 02:24 PM
This is the new mission of APG. We've had the blimp flying around harford county for many months now. I guess people forget the hours of heavy artillery fire every day and night that I grew up with. I for one want to know our military is testing and using the best technology defending our borders against internal terrorists and terrorist nations. People forget the primary mission of our military is Defense. Defending our homeland. Not invading other nations or being the worlds police and moral authority. I'm not advocating domestic spying on law abiding citizens, but there?are plenty here I'm glad someone IS keeping an eye on.
v.carney January 25, 2014 at 04:06 PM
The people screaming about privacy will be screaming the loudest about the government not doing enough, if an attack comes.
rob hanks January 25, 2014 at 06:50 PM
Just another tool for big brother to spy with. If you honestly think there are no cameras on there, or that NSA isn't already figuring a way to utilize it for their shenanigans, then you are either in denial about what our government has turned into, or you are extremely clueless on current events. Can cover the Carolinas to Boston?.... yeah.... somethings up!
Mike January 28, 2014 at 03:41 PM
Note to self: starting in September, get dressed in basement.


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