This is not a drill. Full story:
  1. A 243-foot military blimp called a JLENS has come free of its tether in Maryland and is now floating out of control somewhere in Pennsylvania.
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  2. JLENS stands for Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. The gigantic balloon is designed to watch for incoming threats to the US homeland such as drones and cruise missiles.
  3. The JLENS slipped out of Maryland's Aberdeen Proving Ground, an hour outside Baltimore, at 11:54 AM Eastern. It is still in the air, trailing 6,700 feet of cable across the Pennsylvania sky. The US military has dispatched two jets from Atlantic City Air Force Base to follow it.
  4. According to the Baltimore Sun, "authorities warned anyone who sees the blimp to keep a safe distance and dial 911."
  5. Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis wrote in January that the JLENS' deployment to Maryland could indicate that the US fears that Russian subs might park off the eastern coast.
  6. The JLENS program is 17 years old, and has cost roughly $2.7 billion. The basic idea behind it is that if you have these big ol' military blimps up in the sky equipped with radar, they'll catch any inbound attacks against homeland targets from low-flying threats such as drones or cruise missiles fired from nearby Russian subs.