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The Military Government

Military Blimp Breaks Free and Drifts Over the Mid-Atlantic Trailing Tether (baltimoresun.com) 196

McGruber writes: The Baltimore Sun reports that a military surveillance blimp has broken free of its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and was last seen drifting at 16,000 ft over Pennsylvania. The 243-foot-long, helium-filled JLENS (Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System) aerostat detached from its mooring at about 11:54 a.m. Wednesday. It was trailing approximately 6,700 feet of cable. "Anyone who sees the aerostat is advised to contact 911 immediately," spokeswoman Heather Roelker said. "People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger."
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Military Blimp Breaks Free and Drifts Over the Mid-Atlantic Trailing Tether

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  • by RumGunner ( 457733 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:25PM (#50819455) Homepage

    FTFA: "Raytheon, the contractor that makes the blimps, says the cable is unlikely to break.

    "The chance of that happening is very small because the tether is made of Vectran and has withstood storms in excess of 100 knots," the company said on its website. "However, in the unlikely event it does happen, there are a number of procedures and systems in place which are designed to bring the aerostat down in a safe manner.""

    So what exactly happened? The cable broke, AND they are unable to get the blimp to safely land?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That's funny, because one of the operators was just interviewed on CNN. He stated it was NOT uncommon for the tether to break, and it happened several times in Afghanistan. One even broke loose and went into Iran.

      Someone is lying, and my bet it's Raytheon, because government contracts lie and commit fraud all the time.

    • by cyn1c77 ( 928549 )

      Let's translate:

      FTFA: "Raytheon, the contractor that makes the blimps, says the cable is unlikely to break.

      "The chance of that happening is very small because the tether is made of Vectran and has withstood storms in excess of 100 knots," the company said on its website.

      Clearly this was a terrorist attack by mother nature, because since our product has never failed in any previous storm it would not fail in a future storm. Due to this attack, more blimps are needed to protect the existing blimps.

      "However, in the unlikely event it does happen, there are a number of procedures and systems in place which are designed to bring the aerostat down in a safe manner.""

      For example, gravity will bring the aerostat down safely, eventually. In addition to gravity, we

    • "Not on your life, my Hindu friend!"

      Monocable!!
  • by neoritter ( 3021561 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:27PM (#50819483)

    Oh please, think of all that precious Helium!!!!

    • by KatchooNJ ( 173554 ) <<Katchoo716> <at> <gmail.com>> on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:50PM (#50819671) Homepage

      Oy! Apparently MSNBC had commentary explaining that helium was explosive and dangerous. O_o

      • Oy! Apparently MSNBC had commentary explaining that helium was explosive and dangerous. O_o

        Specifically, chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said helium was flammable. Not sure whether it was a brain fart or he's just clueless about the chemistry.

        • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )

          chief Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski said helium was flammable.

          I believe proper term is inflammable like when they wrote on gasoline tanker trucks but used "flammable." Otherwise some may interpret it as unflammable. Of course these days they simply put "1203" on their code sign. I think if they blimp had "1046" code sign then everything will be ok.

          • I'm reminded of the sticker on a box I bought on EBay, "If you find this box, don't touch it. Do not leave the area. Help is on the way. The Umbrella Corporation"
    • Hydrogen was the lowest bidder. So we are all good and safe.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Interesting aside: It was the filling of these two aerostats that exhausted the US supply of Helium a year or two ago.

    • We're deeing thee beest theet we keen. Theer wheel be pleenty eave helium. Treest eece.

  • Raytheon, which produces the aircraft, described the likelihood that the tether would break as "very small."

    "The chance of that happening is very small because the tether is made of Vectran and has withstood storms in excess of 100 knots," the Raytheon website stated on its website before the blimp became unmoored.

  • Not A Blimp (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:33PM (#50819527)
    A blimp is a powered craft. An aerostat is a tethered balloon.

    If it were a blimp -- even an unmanned blimp -- and it had fuel, they could just drive it back home.
  • by bobbied ( 2522392 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:35PM (#50819545)

    So the military is sending up a trial balloon?

    I wonder what the reaction might be..

  • No one would have seen it, with the remnants of Hurricane Patricia hitting the area.
  • it eats Pittsburgh.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )
      I'm not sure I'm up for a horror movie with a rosy ending. That sort of thing just seems so fake.
  • "People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger."

    (from the various armed alphabet agents closely following)

    • Re:Danger? (Score:5, Funny)

      by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @04:29PM (#50820043)

      "People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger."

      RTFA. The airship was at 16000 feet altitude. It's very dangerous to be at that altitude unless you have an airplane, parachute, or other safety device. To be safe, people should keep about 14000 - 15600* feet away.

      (* ground elevation in this area varies from around 400 - 2000 feet, iirc)

    • "People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger."

      (from the various armed alphabet agents closely following)

      Besides just general boiler plate warning, it's quite conceivable that somebody coming across it might grab onto the tether. With an upgust they could be 50-100 feet off the ground before they realize how high they are and it's too late to let go. Then you just hope you can hold on longer than it takes for the thing to drift down again. Happened to a couple of zeppelin landing crew in the past as grabbing ahold of tethers and tying the things down is how you land a zeppelin.

  • by afidel ( 530433 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:43PM (#50819629)

    Billions spent and the stupid thing couldn't detect a man in an ultralight headed straight for the Capital, we need to cut our losses and scrap the thing already.

    • by kencurry ( 471519 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:58PM (#50819749)

      Billions spent and the stupid thing couldn't detect a man in an ultralight headed straight for the Capital, we need to cut our losses and scrap the thing already.

      looks like someone did just that.

    • i take it you've never lived under the protection of one in a combat zone. not to mention, they become the main target of the locals. better it then I.

      • i take it you've never lived under the protection of one in a combat zone.

        Is that because JLENS has never been deployed to a combat zone (mostly because it was designed to operate in friendly territory)?

    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Systems are built to the requirements specified by the government. It's extremely doubtful that they were looking to detect ultralights, which have a very significantly smaller radar signature, and payload than a cruise missile.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @03:53PM (#50819699)

    How could they lose it? Surely after $2.5B spent on the program, they had enough money to slap a GPS tracker on it.

    • Oh, I'm sure they knew where it was the whole time. The question becomes what the fuck you do about it.

    • Pennsylvania is being hit by a massive storm right now. The blimp is being blown over the mountains, and anyone chasing it has to go around.
    • They know where it is. There are two F-16 fighter jets tailing it. There are better articles online than the one linked in TFS.
  • "Oh the, um, Inhumanity!" Hey, if it gets to international waters, can just anybody grab it?
    • All you have to do is fight your way through a pair of F18's and bog know what else is chasing it. I don't think anybody is going to claim salvage rights on this puppy.

    • I was wondering about this. If it was a drifting, unmanned ship at sea it would become the property of anyone boarding it. I would imagine a drifting, unmanned ship above the sea would be subject to the same laws. So, we need another airship to chase it, and board it.

      This could all turn delightfully Girl Genius...

  • Blimp/Balloon is now on the ground in Montour County, PA and being secured.
  • Does anyone know the current whereabouts of Sideshow Bob?

  • Since it's Military... It's gotta be a cheap Blimp, maybe only a few dozen Million dollars. Cheap compared to that new Bomber, which is coming out to $2Billion per plane, at least.

    The Pentagon's budget is unlimited, says the GOP, but we can't afford healthcare or social security, or even have a post office.

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Some of the early funding for the blimp like systems going back in 'public' since 1981.
      Tethered Aerostat Radar System
      http://fas.org/nuke/guide/usa/... [fas.org]
      The real win is the the upkeep, upgrading and new support via different departments, mil or federal gov that just keep the cash flowing over generations of platforms.
      The next upgrade for new systems will be long term surveillance above any US city that needs that kind of 24/7 surveillance with a wide selection of civilian/embassy data and optical all wea
    • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

      Are you arguing that we shouldn't pay for the military to detect cruise missiles, or just ranting against the military and GOP?

  • The neat thing about trailing a long tether is that it keeps the airship at a constant height above ground...if it were to drift higher, it would lift more tether off the ground, which would make it heavier - and thus descent. If it drifts lower, more tether rests on the ground, which lightens the airship and allow it to go up again. Net result is an elegant feedback control system that keeps the airship at constant height.

    • The problem in this particular isn't so much constant height as it is constant latitude and longitude.

  • It just wanted to go on a leaf peeping tour.
  • Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System is not JLENS, it's JLACMDENSS.

  • But I can now say, I was there in Baltimore "when the balloon went up”...

    Gee and I thought only WWII survivors could ever quote that.

  • Maybe, "top ten military excuses for the blimp breaking free"

    10. Blimp? What Blimp?
      9. Forgot to use The Club
      8. If you love something, set it free

    That's all I could think of.

  • maybe it'll stop fucking with the 2m amateur band.
  • the news article linked to has had it's content updated...
  • The ultimate ... hack on the United States could involve severing the ... cables:
    tech.slashdot.org/story/15/10/26/0114256/russian-presence-near-undersea-cables-concerns-us

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