Science & Technology

$2 Billion Spy Blimp Finally Successfully Shoots Down Missile

Even the Pentagon doesn't want them anymore


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.