W. Texas-Based Air Force Radar Blimp Crashes

Blimp was positioned 12,000-feet above Ryan, Texas

Friday, Feb 17, 2012  |  Updated 12:53 PM CDT
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W. Texas-Based Radar Blimp Crashes

Frank Heinz

Air Force blimp over Ryan, Texas.

Federal investigators are looking into why a giant radar blimp tethered high over the Texas-Mexico border in far West Texas crashed this week.

The Air Force-operated aerostat surveillance platform hit the ground Tuesday at its site over Ryan after high winds aloft prompted crews to winch it down.

Ryan is located along U.S. 90 between Marfa and Valetine the Big Bend region of West Texas.

Virginia-based Air Combat Command spokesman Scott Knuteson said Thursday no one was hurt in what's being called a "class A mishap," meaning damage tops $2 million.

The unmanned radar balloon is nearly 210 feet long, 70 feet in diameter and is connected to a cable that allows it to float about 12,000 feet above sea level.

For more than 15 years. it's been monitoring low-flying aircraft to help intercept drug planes and help with border security.

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