IDF surveillance balloon.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Large contingencies of IDF forces conducted scans on Monday after a military surveillance balloon detached from its position and disappeared into Palestinian territory.
It was not immediately clear how the mobile observation device disconnected from the West Bank post where it was employed. The IDF Spokesperson's Unit said the military was checking the circumstances behind the incident.
Such portable observation balloons used by the IDF are considered to be one of the most important accessories utilized by the army to assist troops in the field. The aerial intelligence gathering apparatus is also seen as one of the most advanced tactical military technologies designed for complex observation missions.
The mechanism was first used by the IDF
during operations to locate three Israeli youth who were kidnapped and murdered at the onset of the 2014 war with Hamas in Gaza.
An IDF official said that with these observation balloons "it is possible to achieve surveillance over territory at a radius of several kilometers at a very high quality. Images with a quality akin to that of aerial satellites are received by those [operating the device] in a vehicle or situation room."
IDF officials also say such balloons allow the military to undertake unprecedented achievements in mobility and the ability to quickly change observation locations.