Information Sources

Barrie, Allison.  “Midnight air defense scramble in skies over DC.”  Fox News Network, LLC.  5 Dec. 2012.  Web.  20 March 2013. <>

This article describes the introduction of Exercise Falcon Virgo in the DC area.  The Exercise Falcon Virgo is “a program intended to test and refine the intercept and identification operations of NORAD”.  In early December 2012 NORAD and CONR (Continental United States NORAD Region) ran air defense exercises in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Joint Air Defense Operations Center, the Civil Air Patrol, the US Coast Guard, CONR’s Eastern and Western Air Defense Sectors, and the National Capital Region Coordination Center.  This article describes the normal air defenses in place over Washington, listing: “radars, cameras, a visual warning system, alert aircraft and Army artillery and more”.  CONR actually oversees and directs the air defense over the US.  After 9/11, NORAD’s initial response was Operation Noble Eagle (this operation is mentioned in multiple sources but not described so I will include a separate citation for it), which has resulted in regular flight exercises.  A final quote which should put the importance of JLENS in context: “Since Sept. 11, 2001, there have been more than 3,400 possible air threats to the United States to which CONR fighters have responded”.

Berfield, Susan. “Raytheon Missile-Seeking Blimp to Get Test Run Guarding Capital.” Bloomberg. Bloomberg L.P. 28 Feb. 2013. <;

Bolkcom, Christopher. “Potential military use of airships and aerostats.” Library of Congress Washington DC Congressional Research Service, 11 Nov. 2004.  Web.  19 March 2013. <>

This is a report to Congress from the Department of Defense (DOD) analyzing the use of lighter-than-air (LTA) platforms such as airships (blimps) and aerostats (tethered balloons). The report mentions approximately five reasons why the use of this type of vehicles is becoming popular again; the most interesting reason being “the military’s demand for “persistent surveillance,” a function for which aerostats appear to be well suited, is growing” (1).   It then briefly describes the most well-established program at the time, the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), mainly used for drug interdiction.  From there, it briefly describes a couple of other programs, including REAP, RAID, and JLENS.  Regarding JLENS, this report mentions the plans for its development, as of 2004.  It then moves on to other technology in the development stages in 2004 and the possibilities for their use.  The final three pages of the report are devoted to describing the issues for Congress, organized by type of vehicle, aerostat, high altitude airship, or heavy lift hybrid airship.  The issues for aerostats are their advantages, vulnerabilities, and possible non-traditional applications.

Brain, Marshall.  “How Radar Works.”  howstuffworks.  Howstuffworks, Inc.  2013.  Web.  4 April 2013.  <;

Brown, Matthew Hay.  “Army adding high-flying blimps to Aberdeen airspace.”  The Baltimore Sun.  7 Feb. 2013.  Web.  16 March 2013. <>

This article primarily talks about the expected positive effects on the local economy of the JLENS system relocating to the Aberdeen Proving Ground.  The system is supposed to bring about 140 jobs to the region.  Congressman Dutch Rupperberger, from the House Intelligence Committee, is quoted for this article and could be a potential interview subject.  The article states that “Aberdeen Proving Ground was selected because it provides the ability to test weapons tracking over water and offers already-established FAA-approved restricted airspace.”  This article talks about plans to integrate JLENS into the DC ‘umbrella’ of air defense systems but does not describe that aspect of the plan as definite.  An important idea from this article is that is provides the information that there will be public town halls, at least in the Aberdeen area of Maryland, to discuss the project and address any residents’ concerns.  The Skywatchdc team may want to attend or publicize the town halls, or incorporate information information from them into the website, depending on their timing.

Cooper, John C. “Air Transport and World Organization.” The Yale Law Journal, Vol. 55, No. 5. (Aug., 1946): 1191-1213. <>

Although this article hones in on air transport, the legal viewpoint it takes is useful as it explains the challenges of managing the skies in local, state and international contexts. Cooper explains how all states have “complete and exclusive sovereignty over the airspace above its territory” and that what we put in the air has economical and political (capital “P”) implications in addition to legal concerns. The Skywatchdc project should address, at least briefly, the issues related to the air space. This article also serves as a historical resource, explaining military command throughout World War I, and addressing concerns (at the time) related to the responsibilities individual states have compared to those of international organizations.

Crouch, Tom. Personal Interview. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC. 8 April 2013.

Drapeau, Raoul E. “Operation Outward.” Power and Energy Magazine, IEEE 9.5 (2011): 94-105. < stamp/stamp.jsp?tp=&arnumber=5989949>

This articles looks at the history of Operation Outward, a British WWII program designed to attack Germany using free flying balloons.  The balloons were filled with hydrogen. They either carried a trailing steel wire that was intended to damage power lines in Germany or six-pound flexible socks filled with flammable material that was intended to start fires in forests. The balloon had no guidance control but did include a a timing fuse. The balloons were extremely cheap to mass produce: only 35 shillings each. A total of 99,142 balloons were launched and they caused forest fires, power outages, and even the destruction of a power station. It was a more successful deployment than Japan’s fire balloon as the distance between Britain and Germany is shorter than the distance between Japan and the US. The role of military balloons changed across time. The Operation Outward balloons were designed as a weapon to attack the enemy. In contrast, JLENS is designed for detection purposes and cannot be used to initiate attacks.

Efroymson, Rebecca A., Winifred Hodge Rose, Sarah Nemeth, and Glenn W. Suter II. “Ecological risk assessment framework for low-altitude overflights by fixed-wing and rotary-wing military aircraft.” ORNL/TM-2000/289. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN (2000).

“General Atomics: MQ-9 Reaper.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia Foundation, Inc. 2013. <>

Haddal, Chad C. and Jeremiah Gertler.  “Homeland Security: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Border Surveillance.”  Library of Congress Washington DC Congressional Research Service,  8 July 2010.  Web.  19 March 2013. <>

This report provides background information to place JLENS in context within the history of unmanned aerial surveillance over US civilian populations.  It does so by describing the use of UAV for border patrol, which is also briefly mentioned in the overview report that Bolkcom wrote.  It begins by describing the costs and benefits–an important idea here for Skywatchdc to keep in mind is that UAV’s have higher accident rates than manned vehicles and can be adversely affected by bad weather.  However, based on this report, the accident rate seems to have more to do with UAV’s moving on their own (these are drones or remotely piloted vehicles), rather than stationary ones like the JLENS.  This issue cannot be discounted completely, as other vehicles can hit the stationary UAV’s too, as described in the Sprenger article.  This report also mentions concerns about integrating UAV’s into the US’s crowded skies.  This may be an issue for the JLENS in DC too.  There was no mention of concerns about privacy or surveillance of civilian populations in these areas in this report.

“How Much Does the MQ-9 Reaper Drone Cost?” Time: U.S. Time. 6 Nov. 2012. <>

“JLENS.” Raytheon Company: JLENS. RAYTHEON, n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. <>.

This is a promotional article for the JLENS technology on the Raytheon website.  It provides a list of threats that JLENS can protect against, some capabilities of JLENS in question format (including “Engage threats, at the maximum range of the defensive weapons currently in the U.S.’ inventory?” and “Track hundreds of airborne and surface moving threats, in 360-degrees?”–surveillance claims).  The article describes what JLENS is and what makes it affordable in comparison to a fixed-wing aircraft on regular patrols (not if their is a JLENS-initiated sortie).  There are two JLENS videos on this website, the JLENS: The Future of Defense Video (which takes the viewer to the YouTube site), which I describe briefly below in a separate bibliographic entry, and Raytheon’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor (JLENS) System.  This second video has animated sections and real footage sections and provides more specifics on the actual workings of the JLENS and some context for it. This video would likely be more useful than “The Future of Defense” video for facts.  The information provided in this article and in the videos will allow Skywatchdc to unpack some of the technology.  Additionally, some of the claims can be compared to outside research.

“JLENS and Patriot Team Up in Successful Intercept.”  Raytheon.  Raytheon Company.  30 April 2012.  Web.  4 April 2013.  <;

“JLENS: Co-ordinating Cruise Missile Defense — And More.”  Defense Industry Daily. Defense Industry Daily, LLC.  17 Feb. 2013.  Web.  16 March 2013. <>

This article provides background on the JLENS project over the past 15 years.  It describes the hundreds of millions of dollars that went into it, what the potential benefits would be, and the fact that it seems to be dead or dying, despite the plan to use a JLENS system in Washington, DC, starting September 2013.  The article provides a clear description of how the four main parts of the JLENS work together: aerostats, radars, mooring station, and processing station.  Furthermore, it mentions possible future uses  and technological additions for JLENS.  It includes a timeline of important dates for the larger JLENS project (beyond Washington DC) and talks briefly about its use in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Some of the important dates for Skywatchdc’s purposes are the successful tests in 2012 and the details of those tests.  The dead or dying analysis, according to this timeline, is directly related to recent budget cuts and there is no mention of a restart in production plans on the timeline or in the article.

Lippert, Randy, and David Murakami Wood. “New Urban Surveillance: Technology, Mobility, and Diversity in 21st Century Cities.” Surveillance & Society 9.3 (2012): 257-262. <>

Given that a major focus of this project will consider the social implications of the JLENS, this article provides a relevant overview of surveillance in urban settings. The authors imply that the surveilling of people and things changes with trends and that it is important to consider how social influencers (such as the police) view surveillance versus everyday people. Furthermore, the article encourages us to consider the future of ‘cybercities’ and what role technologies that occur above a city influence the politics and daily life of everyday citizens.  This final thought is especially important to Skywatchdc.  Regardless of JLENS’ use for defense, it may have unanticipated effects on the civilian population as well.

Miller, Jonathan I. and Meyer Nahon.  “Analysis and Design of Robust Helium Aerostats”, Journal  of Aircraft, Vol. 44, No.5 (2007), 1447-1458.  <>

“Operation Noble Eagle.”  Air Force Historical Studies Office.  Air Force Historical Studies Office,  6 Sep. 2012.  Web.  20 March 2013. <>

This factsheet provides information on the history and current use of Operation Noble Eagle.  Operation Noble Eagle is the official name of the air defense strategies begun minutes after 9/11 and continued in an official context to the present.  From a quick and temporary response, Operation Noble Eagle is now “a permanent defense requirement and major force commitment involving thousands of Airmen from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, and regular Air Force; hundreds of fighters, tankers, and airborne early warning aircraft; and components of the other armed services and various civilian departments and agencies”.  Operation Noble Eagle consists of the air defense of major cities, air cover support major national events, regular and random patrols, and sortie responses to possible threats.  A final takeaway quote, “Operation Noble Eagle reached a milestone in late December 2009 when two Air National Guard F-15 Eagles from the 125th Fighter Wing, Detachment 1, at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, intercepted a small airplane and accomplished the 55,000th consecutive accident-free CONR sortie”.  It is unclear if this claim of accident-free status includes only operational accidents or damage and problems from the threats to which it is responding.

Qiumin, Dai, Xiande Fang,and Xiaojian Li. “Dynamic simulation of breakaway characteristics of tethered aerostats.”  Advances in Space Research Vol 48, Issue 7, 1 Oct 011, 1258–1264. <>

The authors offer a succinct technical approach to the function of aerostats and directly address the issues associated with potential malfunctions. Aerostats are defined as “lighter-than-air vehicles tethered to the ground by a cable”  and operate through the intricate functioning of a ballonet (the blimp-like object), payload, and cable. Although aerostats rely on the cable system, they must have a certain level of buoyancy and helium for stabilization. Part of Skywatchdc’s responsibility is to inform the general public of security concerns and unintended consequences. Qiumin et al. explains how external forces such as overpressure, wind velocity, gravitational acceleration and the natural environment can affect not only its ascent or descent, but also the possibility of the aerostat to break away from its tethered placement if the cable becomes damaged. Skywatchdc aims to find out who will be watching the JLENS aerostats and if potential malfunctions can be diverted by proper management and control.  Finding out who makes these decisions is key.

“Selected Acquisition Report.” United States Department of Defense. 31 Dec. 2011. < DEC%202011%20SAR/JLENS%20-%20SAR%20-%2031%20DEC%202011.pdf>

This report details the policies and strategies adopted by the US Department of Defense following extensive testing of the JLENS orbit over White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. Extensive testing by military experts show that the technology was not only effective, but adjusted, updated, and readjusted in order to meet strict guidelines required for military readiness. The report offers press contacts from within the military who specialize in this technology, budget appropriations, timelines for further testing, and commentary regarding the accuracy, control, feasibility, and design of the Aerostat orbit technology. It also includes the initial report about the test being conducted in DC. According to this document, there will be a final clearance given for testing above the city on May 25. This increases the likelihood that our project may be able to make a difference in public opinion before this time, whether it is in support or against the new surveillance technology. The report will also  be critical as a fact-check for many of Raytheon’s claims, as most people would be likely to stop after the promotional agenda of their website. By using the extensive budget data, we can compare and contrast costs to scrambling jets or other available defense technologies.

Sprenger, Sebastian.  “Army JLENS Destroyed in Major Blimp Collision; Program Held Up.” Newstand.  Inside Washington Publishers.  2011.  Web.  14 March. 2013.  <>

This article describes the economic cost of accidents, as the one described here resulted in an extension of the “engineering and manufacturing development phase” of the JLENS project and a request for an additional $168 million beyond the originally budgeted $172 million for the program in 2012.  Neither the Army or Raytheon initially provided information about the accident; the Government Accountability Office provided a basic report on the accident March 29, 2012.  In addition, the article describes the capabilities of the JLENS aerostat: “tracking enemy unmanned aerial vehicles and cruise missiles. The 74-meter tethered aerostat also has a role in ground surveillance. Its sensors can track moving targets and provide a “launch point estimate” for tactical ballistic missiles and large-caliber rockets, according to the budget documents.  A JLENS system can stay in the air up to 30 days and provide 24-hour radar coverage of an assigned area. It uses “advanced sensor and networking technologies to provide 360-degree, wide-area surveillance and precision target tracking,” according to the budget documents.

U.S. Air Force. “Tethered Aerostat Radar System, Fact Sheet”, 2010. Web.  18 March 2013.  <>

The fact sheet discusses the most well established lighter-than-air program today, the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS). It has been operating since 1980 at eight sites along the southern U.S. border and in the Caribbean. Currently, TARS’ primary mission is surveillance for drug interdiction. Each aerostat can lift 2,200 lbs of radar or other sensors to a height of 12,000 feet, and can detect targets out to 230 miles. The aerostat can stay aloft for months at a time.  This article may provide useful information for comparison with JLENS or to demonstrate the evolution of aerostats.

Wolf, Jim. “Blimps to Bolster Washington’s Air Shield in Test.” Reuters, 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2013. <>.

This article introduces the idea that blimps will be moored in the Washington, DC sky by the 30th of September as part of the defense for the area.  The official name is JLENS: Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, and the JLENS system is built by Raytheon. JLENS will provide “surveillance radar information” and will be integrated into the existing systems in the area.  The article mentions that NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) “is responsible for defending air space over the United States and Canada, including the Washington area with its many pieces of important infrastructure”.  This is important as the US does not have unilateral control over its own air space.  JLENS would complement the Federal Aviation Administration radars, Department of Homeland Security helicopters, and fixed wing aircraft on alert at Reagan National Airport, which currently protect the DC air space.  The use of JLENS in the DC area is a “capabilities test” and may last up to 3 years.  The article goes on to describe the cost (approx. $450 million per pair), the two different types of radar (long range and targeting), the height, the time frame for regular use, and the purpose (“give the military more time to react to threats”, a list of the possible threats).  Finally, the article mentions advantages of blimps versus fixed wing aircraft (cost, payload capacity, time aloft) and brings up the recent scale back of monetary support for blimps and “lighter-than-air vehicle efforts”.  It does not go into the specifics of the reduced use level of fixed wing aircraft, as they would still be needed to respond to threats detected by JLENS.

Wood, David Murakami, and Kirstie Ball. “A report on the surveillance society.” Surveillance Studies Network, UK (2006).  < application/surveillance_society_full_report_2006.pdf>

This report is written by  the Surveillance Studies Network commissioned by the United Kingdom Information Commissioner. It is split into three sections which cover the essential understanding of surveillance society. The first maps the terrain of the surveillance society: its definitions, issues and consequences. Authors argue that surveillance is two-sided, and its benefits and risks must be acknowledged at the same time. It is a product of modern technology, but social relationships depending on trust are compromised in this way. The second part shows how the surveillance society operates. The report presents some of the common practices used to monitor personal activities. Examples include video surveillance, ‘dataveillance’, locating, tracking and tagging and biometrics. This part also covers the social impact of surveillance and how individuals, communities and social groups would respond to surveillance. The third examines some of the regulatory challenges posed by the surveillance society. Authors analyze the current regulations concerning privacy and surveillance and proposes several ideas for future regulations. This report is a good reference to understand the basic concept concerning surveillance society.

Zakaria, Tabassum. “In New Mexico desert, drone pilots learn the new art of war.” Reuters. Thomson Reuters. 23 April 2013. <>


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