For the first time, one of the Pentagon's spy blimps successfully detected and tracked an anti-ship cruise missile, which the Navy then proceeded to blast out of the sky. But it's only a marginal success for the once-hyped blimp program. Once sweeping in scale and designed to use radars to help shoot down enemy missiles — a threat we could potentially face during a war with Iran — the blimps have seen drastic cuts after nearly $2 billion in development costs and years of delays.
The Raytheon-designed spy blimps, called the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor or JLENS, used its radars to home in on a test cruise missile during a demonstration Friday at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. After the blimps detected the test missile, the Navy fired a Standard Missile-6 interceptor and shot the incoming missile down. "It was a very successful intercept, and I'm pleased to say lots of pieces of the target scattered over the desert," Mark Rose, Raytheon's program director, told reporters during a teleconference Monday.