Army denies all claims for property damage caused by runaway blimp

An unmanned Army surveillance blimp floats through the air while dragging a tether line south of Millville, Pa., Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015. The bulbous, 240-foot helium-filled blimp came down near Muncy, a small town about 80 miles north of Harrisburg. The North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado said the blimp detached from its station at the military's Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. (Jimmy May/Bloomsburg Press Enterprise via AP)

MUNCY, Pa. (WHTM) – The U.S. Army has formally denied 35 claims for property damage caused when an unmanned surveillance blimp broke loose in Maryland and came down in Pennsylvania in 2015.

The Army says it determined no government employees, agencies or entities were responsible or negligent when the aerostat balloon broke free from its tether at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

This photo, from U.S. Army video, shows the tail section of a surveillance blimp that snagged in trees near Muncy on Oct. 28, 2015.
This photo from U.S. Army video shows the tail section of a surveillance blimp that snagged in trees near Muncy on Oct. 28, 2015.

In a statement Friday, the Army said an investigation found an independent contractor, Raytheon Company, was responsible for installing and maintaining the tethering system.

The 243-foot long blimp drifted over Lancaster, Berks and Schuylkill counties on Oct. 28, 2015, before it began to deflate over Columbia and Montour counties. An attached mooring cable, about 6,700 feet long, caused electrical outages as it pulled down power lines.

This photo from U.S. Army video shows the main hull of a surveillance blimp that came down in a heavily wooded ravine near Muncy on Oct. 28, 2015.
This photo from U.S. Army video shows the main hull of a surveillance blimp that came down in a heavily wooded ravine near Muncy on Oct. 28, 2015.

The blimp eventually came down in two pieces near Muncy. The tail section snagged on trees and the 10,000-pound main hull landed in a heavily wooded, steep ravine about a quarter-mile away.

No injuries were reported.

The Associated Press reported that damage claims totaled more than $1.5 million.

The aerostat was part of the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Netted Sensor System. It was equipped with a radar system designed to track possible air, land and sea threats.

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