Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday that the $2.7 billion military surveillance blimp – which was adrift somewhere above central Pennsylvania – could still be “recovered,” a lesson learned during similar blimp mishaps in Afghanistan.
The blimp broke free of its tethering in Aberdeen, Maryland, on Wednesday, and reportedly ascended to an initial cruising altitude of around 16,000 feet.
Carter told reporters at the Pentagon that blimps have been extensively used for ground surveillance in Iraq and Afghanistan, but would not say whether it posed a hazard to air travel.
“My understanding is, from having seen these break loose in Afghanistan on a number of occasions, we could get it to descend and then we’ll recover it and put it back up,” Carter said. “This happens in bad weather.”
The blimp caused widespread power outages after breaking power lines Wednesday afternoon, AP reported, and two F-16 fighter jets were deployed to track the unmanned flying object’s movements.
It wasn’t clear how the blimp was freed, or how the military planned to capture it.