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Akashdeep Aerostat is an aerial surveillance system developed by Aerial Delivery Research & Development Establishment (ADRDE), a laboratory under Defence Research & Development organization (DRDO) of India. It was the star exhibit at the 2011 Aero India show.
The Akashdeep aerostat is a medium-sized (35 metres long, 23 metres high) helium-filled balloon with a volume of 2,000 cubic metres tethered to the ground with cables. It can carry a 300 kg payload to an altitude of 1,000 meters. It can survey areas up to 20 km away and with advanced cameras and radar, its surveillance range is variously reported as 60 km or 100 km. The aerostat can be used for surveillance, intelligence, broadcasting communication relay and jamming of electronic systems,
Akashdeep aerostat system carry gyro-stabilized electro-optic and COMINT (communication intelligence) system for capturing and analyzing all types of communication in air and also have thermal camera for surveillance at night and in low visibility condition. Various other ELINT (electronic intelligence) and RADAR payloads are also being developed indigenously.
The Akashdeep Aerostat was under development for four years. DRDO had spent around Rs 700 million on research and development of the device. As on 2011 single fully developed unit is expected to cost Rs 16 to 200 million each . The helium balloon is likely to be priced at Rs 6 to 70 million.
On 25 December 2010, a prototype performed surveillance on Agra and intercepted a variety of communications by flying up to an altitude of one km. The complete balloon system, ground-based command and control systems and the payloads were integrated for the three-day trial that culminated on 28 December 2010. Health monitoring of aerostat and simultaneous command and controlling of payload from ground control station was demonstrated successfully. The test carried was of platform itself to carry limited payload having lighter sensors. A Radar variant similar to Aerostats fielded by the Indian Air Force, which was imported from Israel, will take time to develop and testing .
The Akashdeep aerostat system is expected to be delivered to the armed forces in the near future. The system will be used by Indian Defence Services, paramilitary forces as well as have civilian applications including disaster management.
In early 2011 it was reported that ADRDE plans to build an enlarged version of Akashdeep aerostat system known as Nakshatra that can travel up to a height of 4500-5,000 meters and having a surveillance range variously reported as 200–250 km or 450 km with a payload capacity of 800 kg to 1 tonne and have 17,000 cubic metre volume.
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- "New Warfare". newwarfare.com. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
- "Bigger, better aerostat in the offing - Times of India". indiatimes.com. Retrieved 30 July 2016.