A military blimp that's part of the military's Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defence Netted Sensor System (JLENS) broke free of its tethers in Maryland today, and was last spotted crossing into Pennsylvania.
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 3000m 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 76m long, is moving at about 48km 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.
— Joppa-Magnolia VFC (@jmvfc8) October 28, 2015
Top image via Raytheon