A military blimp that’s part of the military’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Netted Sensor System (JLENS) broke free of its tethers in Maryland today, and was last spotted crossing into Pennsylvania. So keep your eyes peeled!
The rogue blimp, or aerostat, is part of an aerial detection system meant to be on the watch for threats from above. It’s actually one of two planned balloons, which are intended to float 10,000 feet above DC and act as an early-warning shield for the city. In theory, it would monitor for cruise missiles and drone attacks on the East Coast. In actuality, it has met derision for its impractical aims and soaring costs.
Today, the aerostat gained its freedom and is currently cruising around Lancaster County, PA. NORAD has launched two F-16s fighter jets to monitor its progress. The blimp, which is about 250 feet long, is moving at about 30 miles per hour, according to ABC27.
While helium doesn’t appear to be a problem at the moment, deflation is. ABC27 reports: “Authorities said it is equipped with a device to slowly deflate it, but it apparently is not working.” Whoops. If you see the free-floating balloon on the loose, call 911. Do not attempt to engage.
UPDATE: The blimp is reportedly causing significant damage via its dangling, miles-long tether:
Stay safe out there, folks.
Annnnd....the blimp has “landed.” We repeat, BLIMP DOWN.
Top image via Raytheon