[Ed. – What could go wrong? We may at least hope that the launch point and intended migration area are meant to provide a persistent view of the southern border, where the drugs and human trafficking problems start. From 65,000 feet, such a view should be achievable although weather dependent for some sensors. The vendor’s balloons can carry up to 4 tons of sensor power.]
The US military is conducting wide-area surveillance tests across six midwest states using experimental high-altitude balloons, documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reveal.
Up to 25 unmanned solar-powered balloons are being launched from rural South Dakota and drifting 250 miles through an area spanning portions of Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Missouri, before concluding in central Illinois.
Travelling in the stratosphere at altitudes of up to 65,000ft, the balloons are intended to “provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats”, according to a filing made on behalf of the Sierra Nevada Corporation, an aerospace and defence company.