Balloons to protect sensitive sites from drones?

JLENSWill there be a day of balloons float to the top of our nuclear power plants in the near future? In any case, the United States follow this path with their ball JLENS. Long 74 m, this balloon (tethered) designed by Raytheon has a radar able to track everything that moves over a radius of more than 550 km, 360 °. Originally designed to detect cruise for NORAD, that ball today sees its mission extended to the detection of the drones. The American army will protect Washington DC of attacks September 11 with 2 balls of this type.

An aerostat to protect the White House, and much more

Launched over Aberdeen in Maryland, the JLENS radar will cover a surface area ranging from New York to Norfolk, a geographic scope that includes Washington. From the top of its 10,000 feet, it will allow the US Army to follow any object moving within reach of his radar, including drones. The main advantage of the JLENS ball, it is its autonomy which can reach 30 days. The solution is well viewed economic than to fly AWACS to ensure such permanence over a hot spot. Raytheon, which has sold the solution to U.S. Army considers that his balloon replaces 4 to 5 for this 24-hour surveillance Awacs.


Tcom revisits the concept of the WWI observation balloon, its performance in place sensors balls and place of human observers.

Clearly, the JLENS is oversized to protect as restricted as a nuclear site. On the other hand, Tcom, American of aerostats manufacturer developed a range ballons captifs smaller, ranging from 11 to 74 m which have been deployed in various theatres of operation of the army U.S., particularly Iraq and Afghanistan, but also over the border between the United States and the Mexico or Italy, during the war in Bosnia.

Will we soon see balloons anti-UAVs over nuclear power plants. Thales has presented at the last salon Eurosatory 2014 a balloon observation of 10 m3. Its payload reaches only 3 kg and its autonomy does not exceed 10 h, which essentially intended for surveillance of major events, but the idea is in the air.

Translation : Bing Translator

Sources :

“Eurosatory 2014: a tethered balloon for surveillance missions”, Thales press release, June 12, 2014

“The USA’s RAID Program: Small Systems, Big Surveillance Time”, Defence Industry Daily,  May 15, 2014

“Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS)”, NORAD press release, December 4, 2014

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