IDF SOLDIERS display a portable surveillance balloon meant to improve the visual intelligence capabilities of field units..
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
The IDF has deployed portable surveillance balloons in the West Bank in recent weeks, a move the army says provides field units with advanced visual intelligence capabilities in real time on developments around them.
The balloon is a miniaturized version of surveillance aerostats used in other sectors, Lt. A. (full name withheld), observations commander for the Binyamin territorial brigade, told the IDF website.
In the event that information comes in on an impending riot or unusual security incident, forces on the ground can arrive at the scene within minutes, significantly faster than they would without the advance warning.
“It can be deployed at any location and controlled remotely, and its main advantage is its high mobility,” said Lt. A.
“The balloon an be at a certain point, and then, according to a reading [of visual intelligence], it can move to another location in a short period of time,” Lt. A said.
“It provides... quality collection in real time.”
The portable platform also contains a classified capability, which the army has described as highly advanced and the first of its kind in surveillance aerostats.
The next stage is getting the aerostat to broadcast data to unit headquarters, in addition to units in the field.
The balloon was first used during Operation Brother’s Keeper in June, launched by the IDF in response to the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members in Hebron.