'Fat Albert' Military Blimp in Florida Keys to Come Down After 33 Years

Air Force blimp used in counter-drug trafficking to come down

Thursday, Jan 24, 2013  |  Updated 8:40 AM EDT
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'Fat Albert' Military Blimp in Florida Keys to Come Down After 33 Years

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Officials say a military blimp that's been tethered in the Florida Keys for more than three decades is coming down for good.
 
An internal email by Exelis Systems Corp. - the defense contractor that operates the blimps nationally - says Air Force blimp known as "Fat Albert" that hovers over Cudjoe Key will end its 33-year flight on March 15.

  The Key West Citizen reports that the blimp - a Tethered Aerostat Radar System - is part of an Air Force program that is being cut. The Air Force told Exelis employees on Jan. 15 that TARS sites all along the U.S. southern border will be eliminated.
 
The 250,000 cubic-foot blimp was the first such aerostat used by the Air Force. U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Coast Guard use the blimps in counter-drug trafficking operations.

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