The US Army will soon launch a program to develop a high-altitude intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance platform.
Brig. Gen. Ed Barker, program executive officer for intelligence, electronic warfare, and sensors, told reporters Tuesday that the upcoming initiative will leverage sophisticated sensors to cover wider areas.
It would also help the US military improve its reaction time to respond to potential threats.
“We’re looking at these kinds of novel platforms when it comes to what capabilities can we acquire either from a high-altitude balloon, solar and fixed-wing aircraft,” he said, as quoted by Defense News.
According to Barker, the service will closely monitor the spy balloon’s affordability, size, weight, and power once the program officially kicks off in 2025.
He also revealed that requests for information regarding the new initiative are expected to be issued within four to six months.
The US military has previously invested in high-altitude platforms to bolster its capabilities.
In July last year, Politico reported that the US military is working on using high-altitude balloons to monitor China and Russia.
Capable of flying at up to 90,000 feet (27,000 meters), the platform will reportedly utilize machine-learning algorithms to predict wind direction and safely move toward its target area.
The US Army has also tested Aerostar’s high-altitude balloons for data coordination on weather patterns and targeting.
Washington’s plan to field a high-flying surveillance platform comes after a Chinese spy balloon entered US airspace and flew over sensitive military sites.
Initial reports revealed that the device had successfully acquired US intelligence before getting shot down in February.
The incident was seen by many analysts as a “wake-up call” to the world as Beijing continues to expand its “hegemonic activities.”