US plans spy craft in near space zone

<O:P>Top US air force officials are working on a strategy to put spy planes in near space - the no man's land above 65,000 feet, but below an outer space orbit.</O:P>

    The new aircraft will increase military capability

    If successfully developed, the aircraft could play a vital role in surveillance over trouble spots such as Iraq.

     

    Air force chief of staff General John Jumper said on Tuesday that he would meet next week with the head of Air Force Space Command, General Lance Lord, to map out plans to get lighter-than-air vehicles into near space.


    Jumper said the air force was working with the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a stealthy aircraft without metal that could be equipped with special sensors and remain in the air for months at a time.

     

    That would help meet the demand for persistent surveillance, which is difficult with current satellites which circle the Earth in orbit at altitudes above 300km.



    Surveillance

     

    Unlike satellites, the new breed of near-space aircraft could hover for longer periods in one area.

     

    Since they would be closer to Earth, far fewer would be needed to maintain surveillance of the entire globe, Jumper said.

       
    The US military already has some aerostats or blimp-like aircraft in use to raise antennas and provide surveillance over US bases in Iraq.


    But in near space, such aircraft could carry out radar and imaging missions, carry communications nodes and even potentially relay laser beams from a ground-based source against a wide variety of targets, industry sources said.

       
    Jumper gave few details, but said one of the remaining issues was dealing with such aircraft on the ground where they could be unwieldy.

    SOURCE: Reuters


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Inside Korea's Doomsday Cult

    Inside Korea's Doomsday Cult

    Follow 101 East's investigation into a secretive Korean cult in Fiji as it built a business empire on exploitation.

    Racism and the black hole of gun control in the US

    Racism and the black hole of gun control in the US

    Would tighter gun laws help protect African Americans or make them more vulnerable to racism and police brutality?

    My father, a Pakistani prisoner of war in India

    My father, a Pakistani prisoner of war in India

    A daughter's tribute to the father who never recovered from his war wounds.