Aiming to beef up its maritime and air security, Singapore will have a giant surveillance balloon that can detect threats as far as 200 kilometres from early next year, a media report has said. The US-made 55-metre long helium-filled teardrop, known as aerostat, would hover at around 600 m and cover the distance twice than the ground radar. It would scan straying light aircraft and detect small boats from a distance of 200 km, it said.
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said “the protector in the sky” would be tethered to the ground in a military camp. The balloon would improve the country’s surveillance capabilities “significantly” as the existing early-warning system is blocked by tall buildings. The daily cited experts saying the balloon will be located away from tall building environment of the city state. The aerostat would be cheaper to launch and operate than fly Gulfstream 550 surveillance planes round the clock.
It would help save SGD 29 million (USD 23.2 million) in operating costs a year, Ng said. “It is unmanned, cost effective and sustainable. It can be airborne 24/7,” the minister stressed.