On April 11, 2022, a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) media outlet released an infographic detailing the history, functions, and capabilities of espionage balloons after one such American dirigible airship was reportedly sighted over Syria in late March.
The infographic, which was released in both Arabic and English, briefly recounted the historical deployment of dirigible airships in wartime, noting that despite being “antiquated and useless in wars now,” such spy balloons are still used for “espionage, detecting locations and people, and protecting borders.”
The infographic further highlighted some technical specifications of espionage balloons, claiming, for example, that they are equipped with “high-capacity cameras with gigapixel technology” that enable them to “take pictures in a circular circumference with a diameter of 5 km,” they “operate on a direct imaging system and contain radar and thermal imaging cameras that can identify, track, and photograph tens of kilometers away, day or night,” and they are “easy to carry and launch, [with] no need for an airport.” Further, the high altitude at which the balloons fly put them out of range of machine gun fire and targeting by rocket launchers.
Compared to UAVs, the infographic asserted that espionage balloons are much cheaper to manufacture, and they can remain in the air longer. Despite this, the balloons are unable to operate in bad weather conditions and cannot “photograph all the required targets in urban areas [that are] crowded with buildings,” according to the infographic.
pro-isis outlet releases infographic on espionage balloons following reported u.s. airship sighting in syria – middle east media research institute
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