Runaway Military Airship Floats Aimlessly Over Pennsylvania for Hours

posted: 10/28/15
by: Danny Clemens
JLENS in the air

UPDATE 4:05 P.M.: The craft has reportedly come down near Bloomsburg, PA:

Original Story:

A giant military airship has broken free from its tether and is currently meandering purposelessly through the skies over Pennsylvania, military officials say.

Just before noon local time, the 242-foot Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) broke free from its mooring at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. The 6,700-foot tethering cable is still attached the the runaway craft.

"People are warned to keep a safe distance from the airship and tether as contact with them may present significant danger," Aberdeen officials warn in a statement. "Anyone who sees the aerostat is advised to contact 911 immediately."

NORAD has dispatched two F-16 fighter jets from New Jersey to safeguard the aircraft, which was most recently spotted over central Pennsylvania.

Related: Is 555-foot Blimp the World's Largest Aircraft?

JLENS was first put into service earlier this year. Built at a cost of nearly $3 billion, it casts a "vast radar net" that covers much of the mid-Atlantic region.

The system, which actually consists of two identical blimps and ground-based equipment, is designed to protect the nation's capital and other high-profile local targets from airborne missiles. From 10,000 feet in the air, JLENS' radar technology can detect and monitor air traffic from Raleigh, North Carolina to Boston.


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