Interesting that the Bangalore Mirror thinks the only two countries in the world to have tethered aerostats with sensors are the USA and Israel.
DRDO’s showpiece at Aero India – Aerostat, a surveillance balloon – was not allowed to ‘fly high’ at the show as the Air Traffic Controller (ATC) had denied it permission.
Other than India, only two other countries – the US and Israel – have it. The Aerostat rose to a height of 40 metres only twice at the show (only for half an hour) – once before the defence minister’s visit and once before the mediapersons.
An official from the aerial delivery research & development establishment of Defence Research and Development Organisation said, “We have kept it (the Aerostat) at winch level (ground level) since beginning of the show. We always wanted to keep it flying. But denial of permission by ATC was a dampener.”
The ATC, however, said it had denied permission as a safety measure as the Aerostat would hamper the movement of flights.
An Aerostat can remain stationary in the air and it is tethered to the ground through an electro-optic wire. An official said while a micro UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) does surveillance work, it can’t fly for a longer time. However, an Aerostat can fly continuously for seven days.
“They (Aerostats) can cover a wider area and serve both civil and military purposes. In Russia, traffic movement surveillance is done through the Aerostat,” he said.
He said Aerostat is used for surveillance, intelligence, broadcasting and communication purposes and carry payloads of up to 300 kg. “Right now, we have a 298-kg sensor and other payloads on it,” he said.
Equipped with a special camera, it can cover an area of up to 60 km both during the day as well as night.