UK Considers Forming Spy Balloon Flotilla


Britain considers the form of a spy balloon fleet. Photos/Illustrations

LONDON – Britain is considering buying its own fleet of spy balloons, after a number of attacks by similar devices in recent weeks.

The British government signed a £100 million research deal last year with a US-based company to develop a “stratospheric unmanned aerial system”. This comes amid growing concern over threats from China.

The UK Defense Secretary, Ben Wallace, acknowledged that the Chinese balloon may have spied on the UK, saying he would also order it shot down.

The deal, signed by the UK Ministry of Defense as part of Project Aether, will see Britain develop reconnaissance balloons that fly between 50,000 feet and 80,000 feet.

The height of the balloons means they are less likely to be crushed by turbulence.

The device underwent flight tests in the fall, and then the UK Ministry of Defense confirmed it was interested in purchasing a “balloon-based” system.

Ross Corbett, part of the Ministry of Defence’s procurement arm, said the lower levels of turbulence in the stratosphere would allow the device to hover more steadily over the target.

“Successfully exploiting this space could mean huge profit potential, but we still have a lot to learn about how to operate there, especially over long periods of time,” he said.

“Our working theory is that the turbulence we all experience in an airplane flying at 40,000 feet does not exist at the same level in the stratosphere,” Corbett added.

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