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  • Waste: Pentagon Suspends $2.7 Billion Runaway Blimp Program

    The Pentagon has indefinitely suspended JLENS, the military blimp surveillance system which broke off its tether and knocked out power lines across Pennsylvania.

    Democratic Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said that the Pentagon made the right call.

    “Under the circumstances, suspending the JLENS program until the Army completes its investigation into last week’s incident is the right decision,” Ruppersberger said in a statement, according to WBALTV. “It is an unfortunate irony that a program designed to help safeguard the skies over the nation’s capital threatened the security of citizens on the ground, including in my district.”

    Ruppersberger said once the Army’s investigation into the causes of the mishap is complete, the Pentagon can use that information to make an informed decision about the long-term viability of the program.

    JLENS, known as the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor Systems, has been subject to scathing criticism following Oct. 28’s debacle, in which the expensive blimp somehow broke from its tether and dragged 6,700 feet of cables behind in its wake, The Los Angeles Times reports.

    The incident disrupted flight patterns and caused power outages in Pennsylvania, leaving about 20,000 residents without power, before touching down in Moreland Township, a rural area in the state. (RELATED: Meet The JLENS, The $3 Billion, Top Secret Blimp That Ran Amok Across PA)

    Now that the blimp’s rampage is over, the Army is relying on the Ch-47 Chinook helicopter to pick up the scrap pieces of the Top Secret blimp out of a forest in Pennsylvania.

    The Army is currently conducting a full investigation, and GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, recently sent Defense Secretary Ash Carter a letter asking for him to provide justification by Nov. 12 for the $2.7 billion dollar program. The program has earned poor marks from the Pentagon’s own evaluation center, as well as privacy advocates, who are concerned that its surveillance capabilities will extend beyond missile detection and creep to include civilians under its purview. (RELATED: Lawmakers Demand That Ash Carter Given An Explanation For Rampaging Military Blimp)

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

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