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Chinese spy balloons: advanced tools and hard to shoot down

Taken on February 1, 2023 and released on February 2, this promotional photo by Chase Doak shows a Chinese hot air balloon in the skies over Billings, Montana. | Fountain: AFP

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assumption chinese spy ball discovered USAwhich, according to Pentagon sources, flew over its territory for several days, is an example of the growing use of technology that in some cases can replace satellites in both civilian and military purposes.

What is a spy ball?

Based on the hot air balloon, an invention developed by the Montgolfier brothers, and equipped with spy devices such as a camera, spy balls They fly over a certain area to collect information.

Its flight altitude ranges from 24,000 to 37,000 meters, which is much higher than that of commercial aircraft, which do not exceed 12,000 meters. In addition to being able to turn on the radar, they are powered by solar energy to control their flight.

The first use of balloons in the military field dates back to the American Civil War (1861-1865), when they took advantage of the high ground to observe enemy lines.

Benefits of using spy balloons over satellites

Compared to satellites spy balls They have the advantage that they operate over shorter distances than those and do so for longer periods of time, as they can remain fixed, unlike satellites.

On the other hand, their economic cost is much lower, since they do not require complex infrastructure to put satellites into orbit and are easy to restore. Also, although balloons cannot be directly controlled, they can be controlled over a large area and change altitude.

As for the disadvantages, it should be noted that they do not offer the same level of “constant surveillance”, a strategy that analyzes the level of effectiveness of the tasks of surveillance and protection of this type of aircraft, including drones. They will also not be significant compared to the satellite networks that are currently in orbit around the Earth.

The use of balloons in civil security tasks

Several municipalities around the world are considering using these devices to keep cities safe. In 2018, the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires Police announced on their social media that they purchased a surveillance balloon and used it in a suspended state during the final flight of the Copa Libertadores over the River Plate Stadium.

In Colombia, the SkyStar 180 aerostatic system was deployed during Pope Francis’ visit to Colombia in 2017. The Jerusalem City Council and Israeli police also used the systems in 2014 to try to stem the tide of attacks and riots that have hit the city.

Scientific and commercial purposes

Within a few years, several “startups” have emerged that specialize in launching observation balloons into the stratosphere for scientific and commercial purposes, such as World View from Arizona (USA), a pioneer company in the sector, which also aims to offer tourists an experience by 2024.

In particular, World View has several balloons called Stratollites, which are capable of taking high-quality photographs from a height of 15 kilometers.

In addition to observing the earth at high altitude, its technology could be used in the event USA to fight drug smuggling or human trafficking, whether on land or at sea.

But the future of this technology is uncertain. Alphabet, the parent company of Google, has decided in 2021 to end its hot air balloon project in order to bring internet to rural areas known as Loon. EFE

We recommend you METADATA, an RPP technology podcast. News, analytics, reviews, recommendations and everything you need to know about the tech world.

Source: RPP

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