Drones tested in Utah desert being shipped to D.C.

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jul 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-30 00:19:02-04

TOOELE, Utah -- Drones with surveillance capabilities hovering near the salt flats will shipped to Washington D.C. and other east coast states for government use.

Technically blimps, U.S. Army officials said, the drones have been tested in Utah for several years. Along with surveillance capabilities the drones are also designed to detect missiles.

The white blimps have been spotted north of Interstate 80 in Utah’s west desert. The creator of the massive moving surveillance radar is Raytheon. The drone, actually called J-LENS, is an invention the company thinks is the future of defense, officials said.

At three stories and nearly the length of a football field, the larger than life object is capable of flying an elevation of 10,000 feet for up to 30 days at a time.

"People come in and ask us all the time what they are," said Kris Martinez an employee at Dell City Station. "I learned that they're very big people attractors, and everyone notices them."

Martinez said customers come in and ask about the drones all the time. Her own curiosity lured her to the desert one day.

"We went there and tried to get pictures of them but it's really odd they don't show up in the picture very well, it's like they're not really there, they're a lot further away than they really are,” she said. “I thought it was kind of eerie."

Dean Smith also works in the area where the drones have been tested.

"I work on truck scales and industrial scales in certain areas in the desert and we see them out there floating around -- it looks like they're probably watching us," Smith said.

With all the talk of NSA's surveillance programs some think this could be another opportunity for the U.S. Government to monitor civilians.

Even the ACLU has questions about the drones' implications and how they may violate Americans' fourth amendment rights. However in a world where terrorism is a real threat, the military said technology with this capacity is needed to keep Americans safe.