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Runaway Blimp: Military Defense Department JLENS Aerostat Breaks Free from Tether

Wed October 28 2015 1:04 pm
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Runaway military blimp lands in rural area as people were warned to stay clear of a the JLENS aerostat blimp that floated nearly 200 miles north, knocking out power along the way.

UPDATE: The JLENS aerostat landed without causing any injuries in Montour County, Pennsylvania.

A U.S. military blimp-like aircraft came loose from its tether and is floating unmanned over Pennsylvania.

Two USAF F-16 fighter jets from Atlantic City are tracking a Defense Department JLENS aerostat that has become an unplanned blimp. The JLENS is heading toward Pennsylvania, and authorities are asking for the public to call 9-1-1 if they see it. The blimp detached about noon Wednesday.

The blimp is filled with military technology and is floating over Pennsylvania or heading toward Pennsylvania. Technically the airship is not a blimp because it is designed to be a tethered floating object — or Aerostat. However, today it is functionally a blimp because it is floating free while trailing about 6,700 feet of the tether cable.

The giant JLENS blimp or Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System is one of two blimps that was tethered.

The helium-filled airships was undergoing a test over Aberdeen Proving Ground north of Baltimore, Maryland became untethered and is floating without control. The military blimp broke loose from a testing ground. it has no pilot and is flying aimlessly.

The lighter than air airship utilizes a helium/air mix and is equipped with armored mooring stations, sophisticated radars, and a processing station designed to communicate with anti-missile and other ground and airborne systems.

The primary objective of the airship is to track airborne objects.

A JLENS prototype blimp was destroyed in April 2010 near Elizabeth City , North Carolina, but there was some mystery about the collision, as the collision wasn’t immediately disclosed. Apparently another blimp, not part of the JLENS program broke loose, and crashed into the JLENS prototype blimp.

JLENS blimp

NORAD & USNORTHCOM report they are working on safe recovery of the JLENS aerostat that detached from a mooring station in Aberden, Maryland.

As many as 30,000 people were without power in Pennsylvania because the tether hanging from the aerostat caused power line disturbances as it contacted power lines or got close enough to cause arcing. At least one pole was taken down. But full damage assessment was not available at 2:45 p.m. People reported transformer explosions in the area. PPL is the power company for the area.

There are reports that the military has the capability to remotely deflate the aerostat. A non-flammable helium/air mix allows the aerostat to float. The pressure inside and outside the aerostat are near equal. The design of the aerostat allows for slow descent if punctures develop in the shell.

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