WANTED: Massive $2.7B Surveillance Blimp Adrift Over Pennsylvania

AP

A massive Pentagon surveillance blimp broke free from its tether in Aberdeen, Maryland, outside of Washington, Wednesday. The blimp — technically an “aerostat” in the $2.7 billion Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) program — is floating somewhere above Pennsylvania, The Baltimore Sun reported.

According to CNN, two F-16 fighter jets have been deployed from an Air National Guard base in Atlantic City to track the blimp. NORAD is also working with the FAA to make sure it does not get in the way of other air traffic.

The blimp is one of many developed by the Pentagon carrying radar equipment to act as an early detection system in the case of an air attack against the United States. An L.A. Times investigation earlier this year found that the JLENS program failed to meet its operational goals.

The blimp, according to its maker Raytheon, is 242 feet long. It reportedly is pulling along a cable 6,700 feet long and there are concerns its tether could knock out power lines. PPL Electric was investigating power outages being experienced by some 24,000 customers, a PPL spokesman told MSNBC.

Late update: Multiple Twitter users have uploaded images that they say show the blimp in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tierney Sneed is a reporter for Talking Points Memo. She previously worked for U.S. News and World Report. She grew up in Florida and attended Georgetown University.
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