A US Army tethered aerostat has descended near to the ground after breaking loose from its moorings and floating free for several hours over northern Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.
The Raytheon Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) escaped from its position over Aberdeen Proving Ground around noon on 27 October, says US North America Aerospace Defence Command.
By nearly 3:30pm, the unmanned JLENS had descended from 16,000ft to a position “near the ground” around Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, NORAD says, while advising anyone who sees the aerostat to “remain clear” and alert law enforcement.
Shortly before 4:30pm, NORAD reported that the aerostat had landed on the ground near Moreland Township, Pennsylvania, a location roughly 130nm (241km) from its starting point more than 4h earlier.
The 74m-long, Raytheon-integrated JLENS had been stationed above Aberdeen on a three-year operational assessment. The tethered aerostat includes a sophisticated surveillance radar that sweeps the skies for small, low-flying targets, such as cruise missiles and small aircraft.