Skywatchdc in the Huffington Post!

Check out this Huffington Post Op-Ed on the HuffPo DC blog by Skywatchdc team-member Tyler Lopez:

“When Raytheon‘s two massive JLENS aerostats deploy over Washington, D.C. next year, they will usher in a new era for surveillance technology in the United States. While many privacy activists have their sights set on military drones and internet-based surveillance programs, the Army is set to begin testing a system capable of monitoring airspace for 340 miles in every direction — and capable of monitoring boats, vehicles, and possibly people on the ground below.”

Full Story: SkywatchDC in Huffington Post Op-Ed


Putting JLENS in Perspective

JLENS and People

Image from PRNewswire

Do you hear the numbers 243 feet and 74 meters and can’t visualize how large that actually is?  Here are some things that are similarly sized.

Goodyear Blimo

Image from Autoblog


The new Goodyear blimp, which will be a semi-rigid airship with an internal frame in the new iteration and is currently under construction, will be 246 feet, 3 feet longer than a JLENS aerostat (and 50 feet longer than the previous blimp).



Image from Reuters

Image from Reuters


A kunafa pastry made in Nablus in 2009 by Palestinian bakers out of vermicelli, syrup, and cheese and submitted for review to the Guinness Book of World Records was 74 meters long or 243 feet.




The Kaga Kannon statue of Kaga (Guanyin), a bodhisvatta, in Kaga, Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, stands at 73 meters or 240 feet tall, just three feet shorter than a JLENS aerostat.



Image from the German Federal Archive

Image from the German Federal Archive



The men’s world record discus throw as recognized by the International Association of Athletic Federations, held by Jurgen Schult of East Germany, is 74.08 meters (approx. 243 feet).

This is the first blog in the ‘Q&A’s from the Poster Session’ series.

Poster Presentation

skywatchdc posterSkywatchdc presented our poster and our publicity materials–brochure and postcard–at a poster session open to the CCT Georgetown Community on April 18.  The team members answered questions on our materials and the JLENS aerostat.  It was a great opportunity to introduce people to the JLENS technology and make them aware of the upcoming deployment.  We anticipate that knowledge of the JLENS aerostat in the DC area will increase as the September deployment date approaches and Skywatchdc is prepared to meet the need for information.

We will be introducing a new series of blog posts, called Q&A’s, based on questions that were asked during the poster session.  Planned future topics include items similar in size to the JLENS, a comparison of aerostats versus drones, and the $450 million cost of the JLENS.  Please post any questions that you would like us to address in future blogs in the comment section below.

Skywatchdc Team with Poster

The Skywatchdc team with the official Skywatchdc poster
Man, Emily, Tyler, Zhou, Uwa

Skywatchdc Presentation

Today, Skywatchdc gave a seven-minute presentation to the CCT 506 professors and students on the details of the JLENS aerostat, its historical context, and the positive and negative aspects of its upcoming deployment to the Aberdeen Proving Ground.  We also answered a variety of questions from the audience.  In addition, we previewed our upcoming interview-based video with a special trailer-length version.  The following slides were used in the Skywatchdc presentation and the photograph shows the Skywatchdc team mid-presentation.

Skywatch Slide 1Skywatch Slide 2Skywatch Slide 3Skywatch Slide 4Skywatch Slide 5


Skywatchdc Team During the Presentation
Zhou, Emily, Tyler, Uwa, Man

The JLENS Aerostat – A Job Booster in a Recovering Economy?

Image from Defense Update

Image from Defense Update

There’s no denying that many organizations are scaling back in a tough economy. The Baltimore Sun reports that the JLENS system will be relocating to the Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Harford County, Maryland this fall.  Along with approximately 100 U.S. soldiers, the dual aerostat system was chosen by the U.S. Army to be housed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground since it has a restricted airspace approved by the FAA and allows for weapons-testing and tracking over water.

Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, from the House Intelligence Committee, stated that keeping the JLENS aerostat in this specific location will bring up to 140 jobs to the region. Even though the Department of Defense is undergoing major budget cuts, the Aberdeen Proving Ground is expected to “have a domino effect on our local economy,” according to Ruppersberger. The APG is expected to cost roughly $20 million but with the new influx of people, this may lead to more home purchases, discretionary spending and other positive externalities related to the local economy.

In addition, the JLENS aerostat project will also create the need for more contractor-based jobs for civilians and non-civilians. The Washington, D.C. region is unique for its proximity to governmental, private, and public organizations. This region is also a prime testing ground for air, land, and sea defense systems before mass implementations take place nationwide or internationally.