The U.S. military is serious about balloons over Afghanistan. Not the party kind, mind you—we are not deploying clowns to the front—but the kind that bristle with reconnaissance gear. The spying kind.
And the U.S. is indeed serious about the dirigible effort, to the tune of a $1 billion surge in "balloon-mounted cameras and other intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance gear," reports Wired Magazine's Danger Room.
The balloons present a cheaper, more easily maintained spy network option for the military, and will be used in lieu of additional drones, like the Predator, which can be overkill for missions that only require surveillance around bases and other outposts in country.
As an aside, the World War 2 nut in me immediately thought of barrage balloons when I read this article over at Wired today. However, while the barrage ballon was an iconic staple of WW2 photography, it was ultimately an ineffective tool in that war. These surveillance ballons, on the other hand, look like they will excel as a means to protect and monitor soldiers and their camps on the battlefield. [Wired]