Past Features

November 13, 2012

Aerostat Blimps - Good Enough?

Aerostat blimp at Ft. Huachuca
Glenn Spencer, American Border Patrol -- November 13, 2014   
   I have long recommended expanding the role of the aerostat blimp system for border security. In particular I recommended installing thermal cameras on the existing balloon at Ft. Huachuca.
    Basing our entire border security system on the aerostat is another issue entirely - mostly because they are vulnerable to weather that can ground them for long periods of time.

House Homeland Security chairman eyes spy blimps to seal U.S. border
Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said Friday that he wants to redeploy U.S. military spy blimps in Afghanistan to America's southern border.
--The plan to repurposing of the large tethered blimps, known as aerostats, is part of Mr. McCaul's $1 billion blueprint to secure the porous borders and stop the flow of illegal immigrants, contraband and possibly terrorists into the United States.
Aerostats Lost: Weather, Mishaps Take Heavy Toll on Dirigibles
Aerostats proved to be extremely valuable for surveillance and reconnaissance during the war in Iraq, and they are in high demand by U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But the Afghan weather is taking a toll --- and costing the military hundreds of millions of dollars. -- Sometimes when an aerostat is ripped free, the only answer is to shoot it down. [...] -- Critics say the losses are a serious problem, more than just the cost of doing business. "At what point does it constitute government waste?" Gallegos asked.
Winds take down an Aerostat blimp in Sierra Vista