search

Israeli surveillance balloon helped protect Pope in South America

Vatican security detail upgraded the security blimp with advanced cameras ahead of Masses lead by the pope in Colombia

Pope Francis greets the faithful with a bruise on his face, after he knocked his head on the popemobile, in Cartagena, Colombia, September 10, 2017. (Alberto Pizzoli/Pool via AP)
Pope Francis greets the faithful with a bruise on his face, after he knocked his head on the popemobile, in Cartagena, Colombia, September 10, 2017. (Alberto Pizzoli/Pool via AP)

RIO DE JANEIRO — Pope Francis’ security detail used an Israeli-made observation balloon to protect the pontiff during his visit to South America.

The balloon proved to be more reliable than the unmanned air vehicles typically used and cost only a fraction of the price to operate, the Ynet news website reported Monday. Two of the three Masses led by the pope in Colombia two weeks ago were accompanied by the device, which is made by the Israeli company RT Aerostats Systems.

A Skystar 180 aerostat system flies over land. The Israel-based RT LTA Systems Ltd. that makes the Skystar 180 aerostat system said the balloons can stay in the air for 72 hours and carry sensitive cameras meant to assist security forces in their daily work. (Image made from undisclosed and undated video provided by RT LTA Systems Ltd. via AP video/AP Photo/RT LTA Systems Ltd.)

“We have recently added a few upgrades to the balloon that secured the pope,” an RT official told the Israeli news website. “In addition to advanced day and night cameras, the balloon can automatically identify suspicious movements, better zoom in on targets we want to follow, and maintain an overview of the entire area even while focusing on a specific target.”

The balloon, which is regularly used by the Israeli military and police, also helped secure the pope’s past trips to Africa and Israel.

Police in Bogota and Medellin leased the device and transmitted its video footage directly to their headquarters. It helped scan the large crowds, the rooftops in the area and other spots that cannot be seen from the ground.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
image
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure: example@domain.com
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.