Air Defense: October 23, 2004

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The U.S. Army has sent 22 blimps (aerostats, actually) to Iraq and Afghanistan. The RAID (Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment) blimps float at about a thousand feet, tethered by a cable that provides power and communications to the day and night cameras up there. The big problem is ground fire from rifles and machine-guns. Iraqis, in particular, like using the RAID blimps as targets. Rifle fire wont destroy the blimps, but does cause them to be brought down more frequently for repairs. Normally, the blimps can stay up for 30 days at a time, but the bullet hole repairs have some of them coming down every few days. There are surveillance systems similar to RAID, but mounted on 110 foot steel towers. These also suffer gunfire damage, but rarely any that damage the equipment.

 


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