A giant unmanned US military blimp broke loose in Maryland today and wreaked havoc on central Pennsylvania, knocking out power to over 35,000 businesses, homes and schools. The JLENS or “Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System” was part of a $2.8 billion dollar US Army project to defend against cruise missiles.
Apparent second confirmation that mass surveillance leads to unauthorized travel. pic.twitter.com/O6LZsoKTjD
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 28, 2015
The blimp broke free of it’s tether around 11:54 a.m. NORAD officials told WBAL-TV 11. According to the North American Aerospace Defense Command, two F-16 fighter jets from the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base in New Jersey were monitoring the blimp while it was in the air, holding at approximately 16,000 feet. Shortly after news of the runaway blimp started circulating on social media, the craft was spotted near Bloomsburg, PA.
— Revolution News (@NewsRevo) October 28, 2015
— Fisher P Creasy (@FPCreasy) October 28, 2015
The JLENS system featured two unmanned, helium-filled blimps, tethered to concrete pads four miles apart. They floated at an altitude of 10,000 feet. One used radar to continuously scan in a 340-mile radius, roughly from Norfolk, Virginia, to upstate New York. The other carried precision radar enabling controllers on the ground to pinpoint targets. They are over 80 yards long (73 meters) and equal about the size of 3 Goodyear blimps.
The runaway blimp caused extensive damage as it was dragging its cable along the ground which took down power lines and knocked out service across central Pennsylvania.
Drag line on property near Bloomsburg, PA. Witness says he saw blimp cable dragging near his home. pic.twitter.com/g30HY5iclC
— Andy Mehalshick (@AndyMehalshick) October 28, 2015
#BUAlert: Classes are cancelled until 4 p.m. due to widespread power outage. More details to follow.
— BloomsburgUniversity (@BloomsburgU) October 28, 2015
The runaway billion dollar blimp’s excursion ended wrapped around some trees in Muncy, PA. Pennsylvania State Police reported the blimp was finally down around 4pm EST and was surrounded by local police. NORAD said a military recovery team was en route.
— Jon Meyer (@JonMeyerWNEP) October 28, 2015