The Sun (Malaysia)

Runaway US army blimp wreaks havoc

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WASHINGTON: A high-tech US military blimp designed to detect a missile attack came loose on Wednesday and wreaked havoc as it floated from Maryland into Pennsylvan­ia, dragging more than a mile of cable and knocking out power to thousands.

The army scrambled two armed F-16 fighter jets to keep watch as the massive blimp travelled into civilian airspace after coming untethered from its base at Aberdeen Proving Ground, a US Army facility 64km northeast of Baltimore.

Pentagon officials said they were unsure why the 242-foot-long blimp broke free at 12.20pm.

Military officials wrestled for hours over the best way to safely bring it down, but eventually it deflated on its own.

The blimp, part of a US$2.8 billion (RM12 billion) US Army programme, landed in Exchange, Pennsylvan­ia.

John Thomas, a spokesman for Columbia County emergency management agency, said he had no details on the landing.

“It’s pretty rural out through there,” he said, adding there were no reports of injuries.

The blimp’s travels caused widespread damage, local officials said.

At one point, 30,000 Pennsylvan­ia residents were without power, the governor’s office said.

“The tether attached to the aircraft caused widespread power outages across Pennsylvan­ia,” said a statement from governor Tom Wolf’s office.

The blimp’s travels caused a sensation on social media, with hashtags like -Blimpflood and - Blimpmemes ranking among the most trending topics.

At least two Twitter parody accounts sprung up, gaining nearly 2,000 followers in just under two hours. – Reuters

 ??  ?? This Feb 4 file photo shows a blimp as it is deployed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.
This Feb 4 file photo shows a blimp as it is deployed at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

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