Army Shoots at Runaway Blimp to Force It to Deflate Fully

29 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Army Crews Retrieving Blimp In Pa., While Second JLENS Blimp Grounded.

MUNCY, Pa. (AP) — State police were using shotguns Thursday to deflate a wayward surveillance blimp that broke loose in Maryland before coming down into trees in the Pennsylvania countryside.ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ) — Army crews from the Aberdeen Proving Ground are in central Pennsylvania retrieving what’s left of their runaway surveillance blimp.A high-tech US military blimp designed to detect a missile attack has come loose and wreaked havoc as it floated from Maryland into Pennsylvania while dragging more than a mile of cable and knocking out power to thousands.U.S. military personnel on Thursday were at the landing site near Williamsport where a runaway blimp carrying sensitive Defense Department equipment grounded itself Wednesday afternoon.

To be honest with you, we had to make measures and communications up here into Pennsylvania but we did have plans and contingencies for a break away that we did rehearse with the first responders down there in the Maryland area.” Baltimore County officials told WJZ they’re researching to see if and what emergency and contingency plans the Army shared with their emergency service planners. The Raytheon-designed pair of blimps, a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS), have been housed in Maryland since 2014, held down by heavy cables. The Department of Defense-owned balloon eventually came down in rural Pennsylvania Wednesday afternoon, but not before it became stuck in a wooded area. Around midday, one of the blimps become untethered and captivated the East Coast as it made its way north, hovering over schools and residential areas. Army Captain Matthew Villa told reporters most of the sensitive electronic surveillance equipment house on the balloon had already been removed. (After all, that’s some really expensive sh*t Raytheon was contracted to make for the DoD coastal monitoring program.) However, the balloon’s remnants remain stuck in the tree canopy.

Tom Wolf’s office said that the state was working with local and federal authorities, including the State Police and National Guard, to secure the aerostat’s downed equipment. He says the investigation is considered “Class A,” a label applied to an event that might have caused at least $2 million in property damage; involved a destroyed, missing or abandoned Army aircraft or missile; or caused injury. It was not immediately clear what the blimp’s meandering flight cost Pennsylvania and the affected counties, or whether the Pentagon pay back the money spent on state and local levels.

John Thomas, a spokesman for Columbia County emergency management agency, said there were no reports of injuries but had no more details about the landing. The blimp’s remains were in trees along a ravine in a hard-to-access area with no roads leading directly to the site and officials are working on the removal plan. Basically, a bunch of Pennsylvania state troopers went to work today really excited because their primary task was to take their standard issue shotguns, a few boxes of shells, and combine the two into a real-time version of Counter Strike. The 240-foot helium-filled blimp, which had two fighter jets on its tail, came down near Muncy, a small town about 80 miles north of Harrisburg, the state capital.

It drifted north, Because of its altitude — reports indicated it was about 6,000 feet high when it first entered Lancaster County airspace and about 15,000 feet high when it crossed into Berks County — and a heavy cloud cover, local residents were unlikely to catch a glimpse of the large blimp, which was nearly the size of a football field. Aberdeen researchers now are in Montour County, where the blimp landed three hours later to recover the aerostat and determine the extent of the damage. The blimp — roughly 243 feet long and 112 feet in diameter — was dragging a 5,000-foot-long tether, which tore down power lines in Columbia County later Wednesday afternoon as it descended. A neighbor down the road is thinking it knocked down a tree branch and power pole by his house that could’ve potentially destroyed his house,” Hartkorn said.

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