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back to article Networked radar barrage balloons pass milestone

US-based weapons globocorp Raytheon was pleased yesterday to announce a successful Critical Design Review for its planned flotilla of cruise-missile-busting network spyeye barrage balloons. Raytheon prefer to call the digital blimp barrier system JLENS, for Joint Land attack cruise missile defense Elevated Netted Sensor system. …

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Anonymous Coward

Just pop the balloons

nuff said.

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Jon

I AM HERE

Why no just design them to look like large flashing arrors with "I am Here" painted on. It's very nice of the americans to show enermy forces, sorry insurgents, exactly were to deploy a suicide lorry or similar.

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

@ AC 11:30

Not as easy as you might think - apparently in WW1 even several passes with machine guns to hydrogen-filled airships only caused some small (although presumably worrying) leaks; it wasn't until fighters were loaded with phosphorus ammunition that they were able to shoot them down quickly.

More recently, the Canadian air force tried to shoot down a weather balloon:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/160598.stm

They don't "pop".

(icon for machine-gunned-and-unhappy-but-still-floating balloon)

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Gold badge

Not "Barrage Balloons".

A Barrage Balloon is one used as part of an air defence system comprising many balloons tethered with cables, ideally arranged in such a manner as to make it impossible to fly a straight course without hitting a cable somewhere along the line (a "balloon barrage" funnily enough). WWII vintage.

These are reconnaissance balloons, which have been in use since 1794, when Napoleon used them against the Austrians. The only difference being that these have an electronic sensor pack rather than a couple of blokes in a basket with a telescope and a megaphone.

As for popping the balloons, this was the strategy adopted in WWI. Fighter aircraft would go up equipped with incendiary bullets (and a letter stating that they were officially balloon strafing as incendiaries were banned for other purposes) to knock 'em down prior to a "push". This was considered suicidal, as not only were they generally ringed with anti-aircraft guns there was also a nasty habit of putting up fakes with dummies and a half ton of HE in the basket to be detonated when enemy aircraft got close enough.

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Thumb Up

Why only 30 days?

If they're tethered, couldn't they be powered using the tether?

In fact, how about having them lifted by hydrogen- which would be fuel celled / burnt off to provide power for the kit AND provide a constantly replenished source of lift gas. With a few days of low-power "broken tether" mode to help after a "first strike"?

Anyway, sounds like a nice low-tech relatively-low-cost (compared to satellites, AWACs, etc) solution to a problem.

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Dead Vulture

Recipe

1- pop the ballon

2-retrive the apparatus

3-Hack the device

4-Jam the hell out of the system

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blue sky thought

Even in face of a specific terrorist threat, I suppose it's not feasible for these blimps to be tethered as an aircraft deterrent in themselves? Or (even wilder) drop down weighted monofilament netting beneath two or more when a threat is detected?

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Boffin

nick a raygun

moved on a Humvee and just zap them out of the sky (or more fun is zap the tether and let them fly off into the sunset)

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On the border . . . already!

We already have these along the US-Mexico border. While flying with a friend we were warned off from the one tethered near Playas, NM. I also often drive by the test site off US 54 on Ft.Bliss and you can see the prototype floating in the sky. Of course this was first initiated during the early 1980s as part of the US Army's Land Battle system of forward based air defense systems. The major weakness of all three elements was a sensor that could see into valleys and behind hills which could cue any SAM system and provide the time needed to lock-on and shoot-down, hence the aerostat solution. Only one system really survives in the US Army today and that is PMS (Pedestal Mounted Stinger aka Avenger). The Army also has a system called Linebacker which places the Stinger missile on a Bradley instead of HUMMVE. The other two elements LOS-F-H (to replaced the failed DivAD) and NLOS-M (FOG-M) were not fielded fully. LOS-F-H was the US version of the ADATS system used by Canada and other NATO members. NLOS-M was supposed to use a Fiber Optic Guided (FOG) missile that would allow the operator to see what the missile seeker was seeing as is transited the battlefield allowing it to see into depressions or behind hills where Hinds might be hiding. Based on this article it seems things have slowed down a lot since the Reagan years.

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Anonymous Coward

Pop the balloons with what?

Ahem,

They're filled with Helium. Presumably made of ripstop. (Like a parachute.)

How do you sneak up on an eye in the sky? How would you shoot one down?

They're at least a thousand feet up. Out of reach for most of the herd.

It's chilling to think what "The Balloons" would do to you for shooting at them.

They would deploy attack drones from their weapons dirigible.

Equipped with mini-guns and 20mm cannons, each one can clear a football field within seconds.

Indiscriminately.

Which will "Secure the Sector." Thus keeping their balloon overlords safe from deflation.

Don't you see?

Balloons are cheap and plentiful, self aware killing machines, linked to the attack drones who have been planning this since the beginning.

ROTM.

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Happy

It worked in the 1950s

Before the massive US ground based radar network was built (the one that includes Filingdales in Yorkshire), fleets of aerostats were used to detect intercontinental missiles. In fact most of these were manned airships, and, if my memory serves me right, they were on station for about 30 days.

The system was effective since the airship could look over the horizon at the Soviet Union and so provide the 4 minute warning (remember that?). The problem was cost.

Incidentally because an airship with engine failure is in effect a balloon, all airship pilots had to train as balloon pilots. To reduce the cost of this NASA paid for research into updating 200 year old hot air balloon technology with 1960s materials. The research was so successful that you can now take your grandmother for a balloon ride.

All because radar needed to see further.

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