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NORAD wants to resume tests with giant radar balloons

Written by The Associated Press | Feb 12, 2016 3:54 AM
blimp_military3.jpg

In this Oct. 28, 2015 photo provided by Ken Hunter, part of an unmanned Army surveillance blimp hangs off a group of trees after crash landing near Muncy, Pa. The slow-moving, unmanned Army surveillance blimp broke loose from its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland and floated over Pennsylvania for hours Wednesday afternoon causing electrical outages as its tether hit power lines. (Ken Hunter via AP)

(Baltimore) --  NORAD wants to resume testing of giant radar balloons which were grounded at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland after one broke free last year, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. 

Major Beth Smith, spokeswoman for NORAD, says the agency wants to resume the test, which was supposed to run for three years.

More money is needed for the test, and Congress cut much of the funding for the project. 

Defense Secretary Ash Carter has signed off on the plan to resume testing. 

In October, one of two unmanned blimps broke loose from its mooring at Aberdeen and floated over portions of the midstate for hours with two fighter jets on its tail, triggering blackouts across the countryside as it dragged its tether across power lines.  

Fitted with sensitive defense technology, the blimp eventually came down near Muncy, Lycoming County.

About 27,000 utility customers in Schuylkill and Columbia counties were left without power for a few hours.

Two fighter jets were scrambled to follow the 240-foot helium-filled blimp.

It drifted northward, climbing to about 16,000 feet and covered about 150 miles over about 3.5 hours. 

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