PSP: Wayward military 'blimp' lands in Montour County
State police have confirmed for The York Dispatch that the unmanned balloon — which is not technically a blimp — has landed in Montour County.
State police spokeswoman Maria Finn said troopers have created a perimeter around the balloon until the U.S. military can respond to the scene and retrieve it.
The balloon descended to the ground by itself, she said.
WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said Wednesday that U.S. fighter jets were tracking an unmanned Army surveillance blimp that tore loose from its ground tether in Maryland and drifted north over Pennsylvania.
Details were sketchy, but a statement from the North American Aerospace Defense Command in Colorado said the blimp detached from its station at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, at about 12:20 p.m. EDT.
Two F-16 fighter jets from the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base in New Jersey were monitoring the craft, which was traveling north at an altitude of about 16,000 feet.
FAA officials were working with the military to ensure air traffic safety in the area.
Lancasteronline.com is reporting that an official with the Lancaster County Emergency Management Agency reported the blimp was spotted floating over Lancaster County about 12:30 p.m.
The Baltimore Sun is reporting the blimp — which is trailing a tether chain — is floating over Bloomsburg and that its tether chain is hitting electric lines and knocking out power to residents.
The aircraft is known as a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System and can be used as part of a missile defense system.
It was not immediately clear how the blimp came loose.
Gov. Tom Wolf's office released a statement Wednesday afternoon that his office is "closely monitoring the situation" and is in contact with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, the state police, the National Guard and federal authorities.
The statement said Wolf's staff will assist "in any way possible."
The blimp is the kind used extensively in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to provide surveillance over U.S. bases and other sensitive sites.
"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," Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a brief exchange with reporters at the Pentagon. "This happens in bad weather."
Carter did not say what the two F-16 fighters tracking the runaway blimp might be asked to do or whether he considered it a threat to aviation.
The F-16s were launched from the Atlantic City Air National Guard Base in New Jersey, according to the NORAD statement.
The aircraft is known as a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System , or JLENS, and can be used as part of a missile defense system.
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