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Military Blimps Will Float In Aberdeen, Tracking Potential Threats

ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ)—Soon, Maryland will be the home to a couple of new landmarks. Actually, sky-marks.

As Mike Schuh reports, two large blimps will soon rise over Harford County and stay put.

Radar blimps like these have been used on the battlefield to track the enemy, and in the Caribbean to intercept drug runners.

Testing in Utah is complete. Now they're being packed up and sent to Maryland.

"There is some equipment already on grounds, yes," said Kelly Luster, a spokesman for Aberdeen Proving Ground.

What will they be looking for? Anti-ship cruise missiles, unmanned aircraft and swarming boats.

These blimps are a lot like a toy balloon. They are unmanned and are held in place by a very long tether.

Hovering over Aberdeen, some days you'll be able to see them from Baltimore.

"On a clear day, you can see them for up to 50 miles," Luster said.

With a range from Richmond to Staten Island, privacy experts have concerns.

"That kind of tracking technology raises privacy concerns, and if the military wants to test hardware they should not be testing out on the American public," said David Rocah, ACLU staff attorney.

Aberdeen's spokesman says that's not happening.

"There are no cameras aboard the payloads of either of these aerostats. We are not going to be hovering around our neighbors around Aberdeen Proving Grounds, seeing what they are doing in their backyards; no cameras, no spying," Luster said.

The long cables tying the blimps to the ground shouldn't be a concern to private and commercial airplanes, as all of the airspace above Aberdeen is restricted, so special permission is needed to enter.

More than 140 people are moving to Maryland to operate the blimps. The first flight is this fall. They will be aloft for three years.

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