Saturday, June 11, 2011

High Flying Lowe's Intelligence Aerostat Corp 150 Years Old Today

Long before Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance became a buzz phrase or acronym (ISR), Civil War-era inventor Thaddeus Lowe came up with the idea of taking to the skies to spy on the enemy.

Lowe pitched President Abraham Lincoln on the idea of balloon reconnaissance 150 years ago tomorrow, which led to formation of the Union Army Balloon Corps in July 1861, with Lowe carrying the nifty title of "chief aeronaut."

Lowe's simple concept lives on in today's Army, which uses high tech aerostats equipped with cameras and sensors instead of human observers to eyeball the battlefield.

This summer the Army plans to test the ultimate extension of Lowe's balloon-based recon idea with a sensor packed in a football-field long airship. The service has an eye toward deployment in Afghanistan next year. (more) (movie) (book) (book)