Lockheed Martin launched the enormous, silver “aerostats” in the sky on Wednesday in Akron. The aerostats will fly higher than normal blimps and they won’t just be used for sporting events. In fact, it’s “unlikely” you will even be able to see them, company officials said.
Unmanned and fitted with sensors to provide surveillance, the aerostats will be used primarily in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Aerostats and other lighter-than-air systems provide low-cost, long-endurance surveillance capabilities not possible with other types of aircraft.
Attached by a high-strength cable to a mooring system, aerostats may carry different types of surveillance equipment to conduct multiple missions. They’re filled with helium and stay airborne around-the-clock.
In all, Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors has delivered more than 8,000 aerostats for military and commercial uses.
Lockheed’s contract with the U.S. military meant the company was able to build the eight new blimps to the tune of $130 million.