Monday, September 30, 2013

Navy Research Blimp Hovering Over Maryland - 'Homeland' Surveillance

Eye In The Sky: Navy Research Blimp Hovering Over Maryland
September 27, 2013 11:57 PM

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — You may have noticed an unusual sight over the Baltimore area in the last few days—a Navy balloon hovering in the sky.

Christie Ileto explains what the blimp is doing.

The Navy is conducting aerial mapping over Baltimore, and it’s caught the eye of many residents far below.

If you’ve looked up lately, you may have spotted a U.S. Navy blimp hiding in the clouds, or hovering over Baltimore’s harbor on clear sunny days.

“I’ve been seeing it all week. Like, every day,” said Ashley Bradley.

Almost 200-feet long, it’s flying over Baltimore.

“Me and my friends were actually talking about it and wondering what it was,” Bradley said.

“I was coming down 95 and I was like, ‘What is with that blimp?’” said Dennis McGill.

The U.S. Navy research laboratory says the blimp is a government research airship conducting aerial mapping, and that the MZ-3A lighter than air blimp began roaming above the D.C. area on Sept. 21 and can remain stationary for more than 12 hours.

The blimp is mapping in the flight restriction zones around Washington, D.C. It includes places like the Department of Agriculture and some of our major airports like BWI.

YouTube video even shows the blimp propelled by two 180 horsepower engines, landing as far west as the Frederick Municipal Airport.

The “Baltimore Blimp” — as it’s being called online — has even sparked Twitter discussions. People want to know what it’s doing in the sky, while others are just “blimp watching.”

“Usually when they have a football game or something you see a blimp. But this one was, like, way high,” McGill said.

But the blimp won’t be up for much longer. The research lab says after Oct. 5, it’s flying away.

When the mission is complete, pilots will fly the blimp north to a base in New Jersey.

Right now, it is stationed at the Naval Air Station in the Patuxent River.

URL to article:

From Wikipedia:

The MZ-3A is a blimp owned by the United States Navy since 2006. 

It is a modified American Blimp Corporation A-170 series commercial blimp and given the USN type/model/series (T/M/S) designation MZ-3A and Bureau Number (BuNo) 167811. After delivery to the Navy, the airship began operations as an advanced flying laboratory used to evaluate affordable sensor payloads, the development of new lighter-than-air (LTA) technologies and general flight support for other related research and development/science and technology (R&D/S&T) projects.
Full article: 

US Navy begins MZ-3A blimp airship operations in DC region

The US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the US Navy have began operations of the MZ-3A lighter-than-air blimp, in the regions surrounding Washington DC, US.

Operated by the US Navy's science and technology research squadron, Scientific Development Squadron ONE (VXS-1), the MZ-3A is conducting aerial mapping operations under the special approval of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Powered by two Lycoming engines, the 178ft-long MZ-3A has been designed to use as a testbed for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors requiring a stable and vibration free test eninronment.

The government-owned navy MZ-3A missions are being carried out within the DCA-Special Flight Restrictions Area (DCA-SFRA) and will be followed to northern region to Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK) in Maryland.

Prior to completing the missions which is scheduled on 5 October and departing to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Lakehurst, New Jersey, the only manned US Navy airship will operate in the southwest near Culpepper, Virginia (CJR)...

In addition, the American Blimp Corporation-built system can conduct various missions in support of technology development for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR) concepts.

URL to article:

Support Stillness in the Storm