Fat Albert, the familiar military blimp based on the bayside of Cudjoe Key, is set to come down permanently on March 15 after keeping watch over the Lower Keys since 1980.
Due to federal defense funding cuts, the U.S. Air Force's Tethered Aerostat Radar System, comprising Cudjoe and eight other sites along the Gulf of Mexico, Mexican border and Puerto Rico, will shut down.
The surveillance program is "capable of detecting low-altitude aircraft at the radar's maximum range by mitigating curvature of the Earth and terrain-masking limitations," according to Air Force literature from the Langley, Va.-based Air Combat Command.
The Cudjoe Key aerostat's primary mission is to support counter-drug operations. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Joint Interagency Task Force-South, the latter located in Key West, employ the data, among others...
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Via Billy Corben