Fighter jets track military balloon drifting over Pennsylvania

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015
Credit: Fisher Creasy / Twitter: @FPCreasy

WASHINGTON -- Officials say a runaway unmanned Defense Department balloon is now descending over the skies of Pennsylvania.

NORAD says at 12:20 p.m. Wednesday the balloon, known as a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS), broke free from its mooring station in Aberdeen, Maryland.

The balloon is described at 37 meters in diameter and looks like a blimp. A large cord is hanging from the balloon.

The balloon traveled through Lancaster and Lebanon counties, and is now reportedly in Columbia County.

A Twitter user, who captured video of the balloon, said it landed in Bloomsburg, Pa. Officials have not confirmed it is down, but a defense official did say that the balloon is much lower to the ground than it had been previously.

Two F-16 Fighter jets from Atlantic City Air National Guard Base are monitoring the balloon.

FAA officials were working with the military to ensure air traffic safety in the area, and has referred all questions to NORAD.

NORAD released a statement on the incident, in which they explained the JLENS program. The statement reads in part: