It was an instant media sensation that died seemingly as soon as it begun. The great blimp chase of 2015 was fun while it lasted, well maybe not for the Army, and now they are plucking what is left of the stricken radar-packing aerostat out of a Pennsylvania forest using their go-to plucker of such large things, the mighty CH-47 Chinook helicopter.
The aerostat itself is not what is so important to retrieve. Far from it actually. JLENS’s subsystems, especially its big phased array radar worth many millions of dollars, are what needs to be salvaged in a secure and safe manner. And that is exactly what the Chinook did yesterday, sling-loading the weapon system’s big pieces vertically out of the forest and into waiting military and contractor hands nearby, where they were loading the pieces on to trucks bound for Maryland.
An Army Chinook lowers JLENS’s big phased array radar to soldiers below:
At this point, who knows if the salvaged radar and other systems will ever fly again regardless of their condition as JLENS was a controversial program before this embarrassing event happened. But at least what’s left of it is not getting rained on in some forest, and the salvage operation just goes to show once again how versatile of a platform the CH-47 Chinook is. Just like some users use the Chinook to pull logs from dense forests, the Army uses it for pulling hundreds of millions of dollars of sensor gear out of similar environments. It truly is an amazing aircraft.
Here is the full report from local TV station WNEP:
Contact the author Tyler@Jalopnik.com
Photo credit- Screen shot from WNEP video above.