Oversight leaders want answers on runaway blimp


The chairman and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform want proof the Army blimp that broke free from its mooring this week is worth the money spent on it.

“This event raises serious questions about the value and reliability of JLENS,” Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) wrote in letters to the Defense and Transportation secretaries, using an acronym for the research program the blimp is part of, the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System.

{mosads}On Wednesday, the blimp caused a social media sensation when it traveled 200 miles north to Pennsylvania while being chased by two F-16 fighter jets before being shot down in the woods.

The Pentagon said Thursday it was investigating why the blimp broke free.

The blimp, formally known as an aerostat, was part of a three-year research project for JLENS.

The system, developed by Raytheon, cost an estimated $2.8 billion.

Chaffetz and Cummings asked Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx for all contracts associated with JLENS, all documents about JLENS’s deployment timeline, documents about the deployment timeline of other systems meant to mitigate aerial threats and documents on the reliability of JLENS.

They want the documents to “understand whether JLENS is a worthwhile investment of taxpayer dollars,” they wrote.

They asked for the documents by Nov. 12 and also asked committee staff to be briefed by Thursday. 

Tags Elijah Cummings Jason Chaffetz

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