How hot air balloons could help detect and

How hot air balloons could help detect and


The Pentagon is working on a new plan to strengthen its position in competition with China and Russia. The hope of the United States is that hot air balloons will help detect and destroy supersonic weapons produced in China and Russia.

Specifically, a series of balloons, flying at altitudes between 20,000 and 30,000 meters, will be integrated into the Pentagon’s surveillance network and could eventually be used to detect supersonic weapons.

The idea may sound like science fiction, but a number of Pentagon documents indicate that the technology is shifting from the Department of Defense’s research to military service.

Thus, “A number of high or extremely high altitude platforms have many benefits in terms of their strength, maneuverability, but also in terms of flexibility of other utilities,” said Tom Karako, Senior Adviser in the International Security Program. , also program director in the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The Pentagon has continued to invest in such projects because the military could use such balloons in various missions.

In the financial context, over the past two years, the Pentagon has spent about $ 3.8 million on balloon-related projects, and according to budget documents, in fiscal year 2023, the institution plans to spend $ 27.1 million to continue its efforts. in various fields.

At the same time, despite the test that failed last Wednesday, the Pentagon is working on its own program on supersonic weapons. The hope of the United States is that the balloons will help detect and destroy supersonic weapons produced in China and Russia.

In August last year, China caught the Pentagon testing a supersonic nuclear missile, which, however, missed its target by about 40 km.

Russia has accelerated its production of supersonic weapons in retaliation for the US withdrawal from the 2002 Ballistic Missile Treaty. have been used.

This would be just one of the ways in which such balloons could be used. Tears, in the form of tears, can collect a lot of data and navigate using AI algorithms (algorithms based on artificial intelligence, ed.) (…)

Espionage programs targeting balloons

In the chronological context, NASA has used helium-based balloons since the 1950s, and in recent years the military has experimented with such systems at lower altitudes.

The private sector is also investing in this market. In 2017, following Hurricane Maria, Alphabet turned to balloons to provide mobile communications in Puerto Rico.

Around 2010, the military was investing in an espionage program that was eventually suspended in 2017. The project is known as JLENS (Joint Land Attack Missile Elevated Netted Sensor System).

Starting in 2015, the military launched maneuvers over a three-year period to decide whether or not to purchase Raytheon’s JLENS systems, but the project fell through.

The army decided to give up the program. JLENS cost nearly $ 2 billion and was intended for use by the US Central Command (USCC).

In his conclusion, “If we matured and overcame the failure of JLENS, for airships, balloons and balloons the future could be bright,” says Karako.