The Cable

The Military Lost Control of a Massive Blimp and May Need to Shoot it Down

A giant military blimp is on the loose in the skies over Pennsylvania.


A giant military blimp is on the loose in the skies over Pennsylvania. The Air Force has already scrambled F-16s to shoot it down. No, seriously.

The 240-foot blimp is part of a $2.7 billion U.S. Army program already infamous for going way over budget and for the array of technological shortcomings that slowed its development. Pentagon officials have talked for years about killing the program. Now they may literally blow one out of the skies.

Two F-16 fighter jets from the New Jersey Air National Guard have been tracking the blimp after it came untethered from its moorings at a base near Baltimore. It’s currently floating about 16,000 feet above northern Pennsylvania at a speed of 30 miles per hour. The blimp is also reportedly pulling approximately 6,700 feet of cable behind it.

According to the Pentagon, the blimp — which had been tethered at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland since December 2014 — broke free from its mooring station at about 12:20 p.m. on Wednesday. The Raytheon-built system had been installed there to keep its 360-degree radar scanning the skies around Washington, D.C., for cruise-missile threats.

Photo credit: John Hamilton/WSMR Public Affairs

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