WASHINGTON - A high-tech US military blimp equipped with radar to help detect a missile attack came loose from its moorings in Maryland  and is now being tracked by two US fighter jets , the Pentagon said Wednesday.

The blimp could have cables hanging from it, which US authorities are warning people to stay away from, CNN reported. Its last known location was northeastern Pennsylvania.

The device was tracked at 16,000 feet above central Pennsylvania, but has lost altitude since them, officials told CNN. It is reportedly traveling at around 30 miles per hour. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  is aware of the loose blimp, and two F-16 fighter jets from Atlantic City Air National Guard Base are monitoring it.

The US military has also contacted local Pennsylvanian authorities and is working with the police and National Guard to maintain control of the device, which could contain secret data. The untethered device is part of what’s known as a JLENS, or Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. It consists of two aerostats that float 10,000 feet in the air and carry powerful radars that detect airborne threats. The system is manufactured by Raytheon.

Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said the US would “get it to descend” but did not elaborate on how. 

“My understanding is from having seen these break loose in Afghanistan on a number of occasions is we can get it to descend and then we will recover it, and put it back up again,” he told reporters.

  “This happens in bad weather, we have experience with aerostats of that kind in Afghanistan, so it does happen, but it is an important capability,” he added.

Air traffic officials are working to ensure the blimp does not interfere with any flights.

“[North American Aerospace Defense Command] officials are working closely with the FAA to ensure air traffic safety, as well as with our other interagency partners to address the safe recovery of the aerostat,” a NORAD statement said.

(ENDS)/ia