Singapore has announced plans to deploy a huge tethered surveillance balloon to boost its maritime and air security.
The helium-filled "aerostat" will be equipped with radar equipment that can spot threats from as far as 200 kilometres (125 miles) away, according to the ministry of defense website.
"It will be deployed sufficiently high enough so as to have a clear line of sight over Singapore's air and sea space," the ministry said. "Existing systems are facing increasing constraints, mainly due to the construction of taller buildings which prevent the systems (from) establishing a clear line of sight.”
Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen Tuesday said the balloon would save the government approximately $23.2 million in operating costs every year by not having to rely on round-the-clock surveillance flights.
"For a small island state like Singapore, surveillance and early warning to give us sufficient reaction time to respond will always be a challenge but the aerostat will improve our surveillance capabilities significantly," Ng was quoted as saying.
According to the Straits Times, the balloon will be able to scan up to Malacca in Malaysia for stray aircraft as well as detect small boats coming from Indonesia's Pekanbaru.
The US-made, 55-metre (180-foot) blimp will be operated by eight ground crew and can run at a height of up to 600 metres.