Watch CBS News

Pentagon Suspends Missile Defense Program After Blimp Escapes

ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ)--Those military blimps over the skies of Maryland may be a thing of the past. The military indefinitely suspending the so-called JLENS program after one of the blimps broke free causing chaos last week.

WJZ's Derek Valcourt has more.

The Pentagon announces it has indefinitely suspended program that operated the military JLENS blimps until after the completion of a lengthy investigation into how one of the blimps broke free over Maryland and drifted out of control more than 150 miles into Pennsylvania.

The blimps which could often be seen in pairs over the skies of Maryland were only in a testing phase and use high-powered radar designed to help detect low flying missile threats.

"I represent a lot of the people who could be impacted by a problem with JLENS," said Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger.

Maryland Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger says he supports missile protection radar, but now thinks suspending JLENS is the right call

"It's an irony that we have a system designed to protect us from an attack and yet it could also hurt some of our citizens. So let's see what the investigation reveals, but at this time, in my opinion and if I have anything to do with it, the program will not go forward," he said.

But some democrats are calling for the JLENS program to be shutdown permanently.

Congresswoman Jackie Speiers says it's time to get rid of the "zombie" program.

Congressman Jim Cooper of Tennessee agrees the U.S. needs protection from low-flying threats but calls JLENS a stupid way to do it.

Meanwhile Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings among those calling for closer look at the program saying the accident "raises questions about the value and reliability of JLENS."

Many republicans have supported the program which so far has cost $2.7 billion.

It's unclear how long the investigation into the accident will last.  The military has only said their investigation will be complete and thorough.

The JLENS system was built and designed by Raytheon.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.