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UK to test spy balloons for surveillance and intelligence

Sierra Nevada Company, the largest defense contractor, will supply the UK with high-altitude unmanned balloons, aerostats, to be used for surveillance and reconnaissance.

According to a press release, the American aerospace company will demonstrate the capabilities of the balloons as part of the UK Department of Defense contract during the evaluation phase of the Aether project. The value of the contract is £100 million (US$121 million).

The British project aims to meet the country’s need for rapidly maneuverable communication systems for long-duration missions that require minimal replenishment or maintenance.

SNC has a long history of rapidly developing, integrating and globally deploying C5ISR systems in all environments.“, said Tim Owings, the company’s vice president.”We are delighted to demonstrate to the Department of Defense SNC’s legacy of success with such autonomous systems and continue to expand our presence in the UK.“.

The UK ministry said it is seeking “unmanned stratospheric communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities with near real-time global reach”.

With minimal weight, high-altitude balloons have attracted attention during reconnaissance operations for their ability to stay in the air for long periods and for their potential to track hypersonic weapons.

The USA also expressed interest in this technology. The US Senate allocates $15 million to stratostat research for intelligence purposes.

Source: Port Altele

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