Guard F-16s Track Wayward Aerostat

Two New Jersey Air National Guard F-16s were scrambled on Wednesday afternoon to track an Army Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System aerostat that broke free from its mooring station in Maryland and floated into Pennsylvania. The jets, assigned to the 177th Fighter Wing at Atlantic City Air National Guard Base, monitored the aerostat and kept local air traffic clear before the aircraft was lassoed and landed safely near Bloomsburg, Pa. The JLENS aerostat, which is about 243 feet long and carries radar and communications payloads, was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground north of Baltimore and broke free around noon, according to NORAD. Approximately 6,700 feet of the aircraft’s metal tether dragged behind the wayward craft, severing power lines and causing power outages in Pennsylvania before it landed near Moreland Township about four hours later.