NORAD launched the second of two aerostat sensor platforms this week to enhance the detection of potential cruise missile threats to the National Capital Region, officials announced. The second Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense System (JLENS) aerostat was launched near Edgewood, Md., Aug. 19, as part of overall efforts to improve and modernize the NCR’s integrated air defense systems. NORAD is urgently working to enhance its ability to detect, track, and defend Washington, D.C., against cruise missile and low-flying threats. Officials sought funding earlier this year to upgrade alert F-16Cs at nearby JB Andrews, Md., with active electronically scanned array radars to better counter the threat, though no funds have yet been allocated. The first aerostat was set aloft approximately 10,000 feet over Maryland back in December 2014. NORAD is working to integrate JLENS and Aegis ships offshore to share target information and tracking data.
In a nighttime ceremony contrived to continue concealment of many of its features, the new B-21 bomber rolled out of Northrop Grumman's Palmdale, Calif. plant Dec. 2. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the aircraft's advanced technology represents "deterrence, the American way."