In the contemporary world of increasingly sophisticated technological advancements, one of these novel technologies is the use of ‘spy balloons’ by governments, businesses and even private users. Also known as aerostats, spy balloons are large, tethered balloons that are used for aerial surveillance and reconnaissance, typically from a high vantage point at or above the typical height of trees and buildings.
The most popular utilisation for spy balloons is for military purposes. These balloons are equipped with cameras and other surveillance devices, as well as sophisticated monitoring, imaging and even communication capabilities. Thales and Raytheon, two of the world’s leading defence companies, alongside other established security groups, all build and use these aerostats, which can record and broadcast data and images back to their operators on the ground.
The use of spy balloons allows for comprehensive surveillance without the deployment of costly, manpower intensive aerial drones and other manned aircrafts. This makes spy balloons extremely cost-effective, allowing authorities to secure large areas without hefty investments. This can be especially pertinent when a government is monitoring illegal activity, in order to ascertain a location and plan raids in a more cost-efficient manner.
Civilian applications of spy balloons are also abundant, ranging from more general purposes such as mapping to more specific and vital uses like monitoring forest fires, wildlife and aerial navigation systems. Companies and private users can use them for uses such as mapping and photography, or even concerts and live events. However, in the civilian market, the advantages for such balloons are limited to those who can afford them, as well as one’s freedom and access to the airspace.
In conclusion, ‘spy balloons’ are versatile and extremely useful for military as well as civilian purposes. With these advantageously cost-efficient aerial technologies, governments, companies and private users can exploit their skies for far-reaching, comprehensive data and visuals.
What are ‘spy balloons’ and why are they utilised? Al Jazeera English