What’s With the Military Blimp Patrolling the Skies Near D.C.?

There seems to be yet another military blimp casing the skies over the nation’s capital.

“I was coming down 95 and I was like, ‘what is with that blimp?’” Dennis McGill told WJZ-TV.

MZ-3A navy blimp
MZ-3A navy blimp is conducting a mapping mission in the D.C. metro area for a couple weeks. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

Instead of performing watchdog surveillance of the D.C. metro area like the Army’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System, the Navy’s blimp is conducting an aerial mapping operation.

“I’ve been seeing it all week. Like, every day,” Ashley Bradley told the local news station of the nearly 200-foot-long aircraft.

Watch WJZ’s report about the blimp that’s catching locals’ eyes:

Deployed less than two weeks ago, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory’s MZ-3A is mapping the DCA-Special Flight Restrictions Area — the Air Defense Identification Zone. It’s also flying in the region of the Frederick Municipal Airport and Culpepper, Va.

[sharequote align=”center”]”What is with that blimp?” [/sharequote]

Bert Race with the MZ-3A team told the Fredrick News Post the goal is to “improve tools and algorithms,” noting that they are “not doing anything that a county surveyor wouldn’t do.”

Here’s a look at the blimp flying above the Baltimore, Md., area over the weekend:

Those in the area might see the blimp, which can stay aloft for 12 hours, until October 5.

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