Children love balloons. Balloons of various colors, sizes and shapes are readily available at markets and festivals. Isn’t it fun to watch them fly like this in the air? For the past few days, international politics has been on the back of a balloon. An observation balloon reaches the US. It flew over the state of Montana, a strategic area with a large missile launch facility. The balloon was finally shot down by the U.S. military, which had terrorized the American public for a week.
The balloon was released by China, one of the main opponents of the US in world politics. China’s position is that the balloon is being used for weather monitoring. China also expressed strong protest against the US for shooting down its balloon.
Many experts in the US say that the incident was a hot air balloon. The use of gray balloons has been around for a long time. Gray balloons take pictures using a sophisticated downward-facing camera system attached to the balloon. Often these balloons are free to move according to the direction of the wind. Sometimes these also have cruise control systems.
Nowadays, most superpowers have satellites in space. They are also used for spying. Then why use gray balloons?
This is because balloons are capable of taking sharper and clearer images than satellites. Satellites are in space. But balloons are generally located at an altitude of eighty thousand to one hundred thousand feet. Satellites orbit the Earth very quickly. But balloons don’t have this speed, so they give better pictures.
This is not the first time a balloon has been used for observation. According to history spy balloons were first deployed in France. They were used for surveillance during the French Revolutionary War in 1794. They were also used in the War of Fleurs by France against Britain, Germany and the Netherlands.
The US, which was growing as a power at the time, recognized the potential of balloons. Later during the US Civil War, the Union Army led by Lincoln sent their balloons into Confederate territories. These balloons were invented by a scientist named Thaddeus Lowe. There were 7 balloons. Lowe also built the generators to produce the hydrogen needed to run them. The Confederates, enemies of the Union Army, had learned to shoot down these balloons, which flew at an altitude of ten thousand feet. But it didn’t happen. Inside this balloon were people. They communicated with each other using telegraph and flags.
Balloons were widely used during World War I. Knowing that the balloons were being watched, the air forces began mercilessly shooting down the enemy balloons. Balloons used to fly at a height of 1200 to 1800 meters. It was also around that time that motorized balloons began to arrive. Barrage balloons were developed during World War II. These were balloons tethered to a ground station. These balloons had anti-aircraft guns. That is why airplanes flew high in places with such balloons. But these balloons were later abandoned as they fell victim to Germany’s high-altitude aircraft.
After World War II, the Cold War began between the US and the Soviet Union. Balloon projects designed by the US to monitor the Soviet Union were known by names such as Project Moby Dick and Project Gentrix.
Content Summary : The US Air Force has shot down the Chinese spy balloon over the Atlantic Ocean