What is an Aerostat?

An Aerostat is a simple lighter-than-air (LTA) aircraft that is used to carry payloads to assist in a variety of military and commercial applications. The aerostat flies at altitude using an inert lifting gas (helium), and is connected to its ground handling station by a tether. Developments in payload technology have enabled Aerostats to perform a wide variety of applications including:

  • Surveillance

  • Reconnaissance

  • Border Protection
  • Pollution Detection

  • Infrastructure Protection

  • C4ISR Node

Aerostats were initially developed as manned observation platforms around one hundred years ago. Aerostat design has evolved in line with the developments in payload technology and their long loitering ability makes them the perfect platform for carrying valuable assets to altitude for surveillance and reconnaissance.

Where can an Aerostat be used?

Aerostats can be designed to accommodate specific climates and temperatures, allowing the systems to be flown anywhere in the world. For maximum efficiency the system should be designed to meet the specific requirements of the customer, their mission payloads and their location.

Why use an Aerostat?

Aerostats have a capacity to carry sophisticated payloads for extended durations due to the long loitering ability of the systems. This enables an Aerostat to provide 24/7 coverage of a wide area. Aerostats have the ability to carry optical and electronic payloads including communications, interception and radar equipment. Depending on the payload mix, aerostats are invaluable in providing ‘pattern-of-life’ data and focussed observation of high-risk areas. Modern sensor gimbals can include HD video, IR and UV sensors as well as high definition stills cameras to detect and identify threats. Aerostats offer this flexible and effective performance at a fraction of the cost of deploying fixed or rotary wing assets.

About Airborne Operations

Airborne Operations is a consultancy in the selection, design, manufacture and deployment of Aerostat Systems for military and commercial applications. The Airborne team have decades of experience in this field and have provided support and guidance internationally. You can learn more about Aerostats in our Aerostat FAQs.