Pentagon testing surveillance balloons across the Midwest

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. military is using high-altitude balloons to conduct surveillance tests.


NSFW    WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is using high-altitude balloons to conduct surveillance test in six Midwestern states, the Guardian reports.

The U.S. military is using the balloons surveil vehicles in the midwestern states of South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri and Illinois, according to documents from the Federal Communication Commission.

The surveillance balloons are carrying small-satellite-like vehicles with synthetic aperture radars, sensors and communications equipment, the Guardian reports.

The balloons travel at altitudes of up to 65,000 feet and are able to track vehicles via the synthetic radars in all kinds of weather.

The documents reveal that the tests are being conducted to "provide a persistent surveillance system to locate and deter narcotic trafficking and homeland security threats."

The balloons use an advanced mesh networking technologies which allows them to share data and communicate with one another, reports the Guardian. They are also able to relay the data to receivers on the ground.

According to the documents, the U.S. military has acquired a license to operate the surveillance balloons from mid-July until September.

The tests are being commissioned by the U.S. Southern Command, or Southcom, which is responsible for disaster response, intelligence and security operations in the Carribbean and Latin America.
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