A large blimp launched by Lockheed Martin and the U.S. Army, has crashed into a thick wood area in a rural section of Greene County, Ohio two days ago. Lockheed Martin said the blimp was launched from Akron, Ohio, at 5:47 a.m. and reached 32,000 feet before “an anomaly” stopped it from climbing to its target altitude of 60,000 feet. Snapshots of video footage taken by Sky 4 news network show the unmanned blimp in a crumpled heap atop some trees in the village of New Freeport. “A decision was made to bring the airship back down, and that’s what we did. We brought it down into a remote, lightly populated area,” said Jim Gring, of Lockheed Martin.

The High Altitude Long Endurance Demonstrator (HALE-D) launched on its first flight from the Akron Airdock. Photo: Lockheed Martin
Two hours after takeoff, the HALE-D blimp lies on the treetop in a remote area in Ohio, south of Pittsburg. The blimp was forced to land after an ‘anomaly’ prevented it from climbing to its target altitude of 60,000 ft. Photo: Channel 4/WATE.

The blimp known as Hale-D is a prototype for its high-altitude airship. A full-scale version would be used for military reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, and it could also be a communications platform. The airship can use solar power and is designed to remain at high altitudes for weeks autonomously.

Lockheed martin was awarded the HALE-D program by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (SMDC/ARSTRAT). Designed to demonstrate how such a high flying airship can improve the military’s ability to communicate in remote areas such as those in Afghanistan, where mountainous terrain frequently interferes with communications signals. According to the military’s plans, a larger airship will serve as a stationery, long-term overhead platform providing telecommunications relay system supporting battlefield communications in remote theaters.

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