JLENS blimp has come free of its tether at APG, now floating over Pennsylvania …

28 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Aberdeen surveillance blimp reported missing.

Here’s a metaphor: a remote-controlled, tremendously expensive, basically useless JLENS aerial surveillance blimp has detached from its tether at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. According to the Joppa Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, the blimp — which is technically called an aerostat since it is attached to the ground — came off its tether. Emergency personnel are tracking the aerostat, which is still aloft and moving toward Pennsylvania. “Anyone who sees the aerostat is advised to contact 911 immediately; people are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger.” The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) later issued a statement saying the blimp was located flying at about 16,000 ft. over Pennsylvania.

They gave the general location as “northeast of Washington, DC” Two F-16 fighter jets were monitoring the blimp, The two blimps, which are easily visible in Baltimore city to the northeast on a clear day, are part of a military program to test the JLENS surveillance system with defense contractor Raytheon. The $2.7 billion blimp program was the subject of a recent, withering profile in the Los Angeles Times that described as the quintessential runaway Pentagon project: Seventeen years after its birth, JLENS is a stark example of what defense specialists call a “zombie” program: costly, ineffectual and seemingly impossible to kill. The blimps, which fly at 10,000 ft., are designed to work in tandem and communicate with NORAD to keep an eye out for cruise missiles, enemy planes and other potential unfriendly aircraft. Instead of detecting things like cruise missiles and terrorists, the sensor-laden airship basically doesn’t do anything except burn tax dollars and look sort of cool floating in the air.

A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following a stint in New Orleans, where he served as managing editor of online news and culture publication NOLA Defender.

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