The US Army is set to begin testing its blimp-like surveillance airships, designed to help the military detect and destroy cruise missiles from attacking the nations capital and other East Coast cities.
The blimps at the center of the tests in Maryland are unmanned, 80-yard long, helium-filled aircraft that can float up to 10,000 feet in the air. At that height a third of the cruising altitude for commercial airliners they will patrol the skies above major East Coast cities for three years.
During the testing, one aircraft also called an aerostat will scan in an area from New York to North Carolinas Outer Banks, and as far west as central Ohio. The other blimp will carry radar to help the military on the ground pinpoint targets.
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Technology and defense giant Raytheon was recently awarded a $130 million contract to install all-electronic tolling systems on the Massachusetts Turnpike and at several local tunnels. A unit of the companys Integrated Defense Systems business will install the system over the next year and a half. By replacing manual and electronic toll-collection booths with a system that will automatically charge vehicles, cars will be able to maintain highway speeds as they pass through the station, easing traffic congestion and cutting down driving time for commuters.