[Answered] In the light of the recent incident of the Chinese spy balloon, highlight the significance of dual use surveillance technologies.

Introduction: Contextual introduction.
Body: Explain some significance of dual use surveillance technologies.
Conclusion: Write a way forward.

Dual-use refers technologies to goods (including cyber-surveillance technologies) that can be used for both civilian and military applications. A spy balloon is a balloon with any kind of surveillance equipment is attached. Spy balloons date back centuries, but still have some advantages today. Recently, a Chinese spy balloon was detected over the US.

Significance of dual use surveillance technologies:

  • While flying aircraft or airships over another country’s airspace is risky, they can be used with little interruption over international waters. Here airships offer many of the benefits of aircraft with fewer drawbacks.
  • They can fly at very high altitudes, putting them beyond the range of many air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles.
  • They can reduce their detectability by using ‘stealth’ technology such as radar-absorbent material.
  • Further out to sea, airships may find a role in maritime surveillance, providing a convenient means to track vessels, especially during peacetime and in crises that do not involve outright war.
  • Unlike satellites which can cost millions of dollars to create, and require sophisticated technology to launch, high-altitude balloons are cheap and easy to launch and control.
  • While balloons cannot directly be steered, they can be roughly guided to a target area by changing altitudes to catch different wind currents.
  • Moreover, unlike satellites which are at much higher altitudes and moving at incredible speeds, spy balloons have the advantage of being able to hover around at lower heights, thus providing better quality images as well as more time to gather intelligence in a particular area.

India is accustomed to the reality that what passes for peacetime remains highly competitive and occasionally violent. The task ahead for India’s government is to turn the table on its adversaries by embracing some of these tools of espionage.

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