“The Pentagon is working on a new plan to rise above competition from China and Russia: balloons.
The high-altitude inflatables, flying at between 60,000 and 90,000 feet, would be added to the Pentagon’s extensive surveillance network and could eventually be used to track hypersonic weapons.”
““High or very high-altitude platforms have a lot of benefit for their endurance on station, maneuverability and also flexibility for multiple payloads,” said Tom Karako, senior fellow for the International Security Program and Missile Defense Project director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The Pentagon continues to invest in these projects because the military could use the balloons for various missions.”
“Wind currents allow the balloon to float along a desired flight path, and the company takes advantage of different wind speeds and directions to move the balloon to the target area.
But that’s not all. Raven Aerostar uses a proprietary machine-learning algorithm that predicts wind directions and fuses incoming sensor data in real time, Van Der Werff said. The company also employs a software program to pilot and monitor its balloon fleet and has a mission operations center manned with trained flight engineers 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he added.
The balloons can supplement work performed by traditional aircraft and satellites, and stratospheric balloons can be built and launched at a fraction of the cost and time. For example, the cost to launch and operate balloons for weeks or months is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, versus millions — or tens of millions — needed to launch and operate aircraft or satellites.”