Proving the capability of high-tech military balloons in Utah will involve buzzing drones, cruise missile surrogates, jets and firing the occasional unarmed surface-to-air missile.
Most of the tests will be conducted in military air space above the Snake Valley over the next several years. Some flights are scheduled over the northern part of the Great Salt Lake.
The work is an effort to prove the abilities of unmanned radar-bearing dirigibles — known as aerostats — to give field commanders a bird's eye view of cruise missiles and other nearby threats.
Program manager Lt. Col. Steve Willhelm says the operations will be tightly controlled for safety.
The military held a series of public meetings about the project this week in Utah.
© Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.