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NEWS | June 6, 2024

US Army to Launch High Altitude Balloons

By U.S. Army Pacific

The US Army Pacific, 3d Multi-Domain Task Force, and the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense will conduct High Altitude Balloon (HAB) Training near the Mariana Islands during the month of June 2024.

U.S. Indo-Pacific command joint forces will deploy High-Altitude Balloons (HABs) to Guam and the airspace around the Mariana Islands between June 7 and 18, 2024, in support of Valiant Shield 2024.

Several HABs will be launched from the Won Pat International Airport before reaching their cruising altitude above 50,000 feet. The HABs will then move to airspace in vicinity of the Northern Mariana Islands as part of the training. At the conclusion of training, the HABs will be recovered in the continental United States. Coordination for the launch and training were made alongside local government leadership, Joint Region Marianas, the FAA, and Won Pat International Airport management.

The HAB systems include electromagnetic spectrum sensors and radio networking equipment, which will enable maritime domain awareness. All operations will be in full compliance with applicable national and international laws and regulations regarding flight operations. HABs will operate under direct control of U.S. operators during the entire time of flight. The HABs will continuously use Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) technology to provide real time location and to ensure all operations are conducted safely and within digital observation of other aircraft.

The HAB training will provide the DoD with validation of extended range sensing capability and will enhance maritime domain awareness. Training with new and innovative platforms such as HABs is a key way the DoD continuously transforms in developing new capabilities in order to protect the United States as well as its partners and allies and to ensure a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Valiant Shield is a biennial, and for the first time, multinational, joint field training exercise (FTX) focused on integration between U.S. and allied forces at the operational and tactical level while interoperating in realistic environments.