The US Army has purchased the helium-inflated Aerostat aircraft that was tested near the Ontario-Michigan border in July 2009.

The 50ft surveillance balloon, expected to be deployed in Afghanistan, will be used to enhance communications between soldiers in deep-valley terrain, according to ctv.ca.

Retired US Marine Corps major general Bradley M Lott, who conducted the testing of the Aerostat in Port Huron, Michigan, said the US army paid in excess of $1m for the test craft and that the forces would request more, as fast as they can be produced.

Aerostat includes a million-dollar camera which is said to be able to read the name of a ship from 14km away.

Crew members that operate the aircraft will require six weeks training which will be provided at the Port Huron facility, Lott said.

An Aerostat aircraft can accommodate up to 20 crew with a 24-hour timetable of military operations.

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