Aerostats are distant cousins of airships, with the only major difference being that these platforms are stationary, and are tethered to the ground station. Helium filled(Hydrogen, though also usable, is rarely used due to its tendency to catch fire), our aerostats are available in both mobile (Tactical) and fixed systems.
Easy to deploy, and needing very little maintenance, these platforms are becoming increasingly popular with intelligence, coast guard and military organizations all over the world. Aerostats can carry heavy payloads, and can provide surveillance and deterrence against crime and border excursions, smuggling etc.
Aerostats can be deployed and connected to a ground station within a few minutes, and therefore provide the government with excellent options for riot control,surveillance (Both long distance and tactical). long distance maritime surveillance, and can be custom-designed to suit the requirement(s) of the clients. In civilian world as well, aerostats have been used for real-time surveillance and advertising for large events.
Aerostat systems are very effective for Communications and Surveillance in Disasters and Wartime. Aerostat systems provide assured communications, surveillance, near-real-time data generation and distribution capabilities. Users include first responders in a disaster or DOD war-fighters. Aerostat systems are highly flexible, cost effective, and compatible with existing first responder systems, providing continuous operations across a spectrum of applications. Aerostat allows first responders and leadership personnel in disaster areas to exchange information, disseminate related data, and provide real-time direction to deployed first responders. Aerostat supports a wide variety of communications and surveillance payloads to support the mission. These edge devices are linked to larger network infrastructure (i.e., DISN via SATCOM or terrestrial connectivity) with coverage extending the reach of surveillance sensors beyond what can be seen from an observation tower.
Today, Aerostat Systems are extensively used during war and peace time, to get early information and situational awareness of oncoming potential disasters. From traffic management, to riot control, homeland security and border control, Aerostats are extensively used across the globe to manage security issues and challenges.
Types of Aerostats
Mainly, Aerostats are a family of Lighter Than Air (LTA) systems, designed to be moored to a platform. Aerodynamic design ensures that such Aerostats can withstand wind speeds, and survive and carry on their tasks while in the air at wind speeds of upto 45 knots (Different systems would have varying capability, based on size, volume of helium/hydrogen in the systems and the design). Since Aerostats are tethered LTA systems, it is possible to power them from the ground, and the tether can be designed to provide power, and communication/control directly from the ground, through the tether. Hence, tethered are designed to not only carry power to the ground, but also provide a viable ‘Earthing’ to the system, so that they do not get adversely affected in case of lightening strike on the Aerostat.
Primarily, the Aerostat can be broadly classified into two types:
Permanent Surveillance And Reconnaissance Systems (PSARS)
Tactical Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems (TSARS)