It willbe India's eyes in the sky, the ones that from 70,000 feet can keeptabs over the entire Indian subcontinent. The Department ofScience and Technology (DST) is developing an indigenous unmanned HighAltitude Airship (HAA) - a towering Zeppelinlike aircraft - to closelymonitor the country's coastline, borders and the Maoist "red corridor",said a scientist associated with the project.
Former AerialDelivery Research and Development Establishment Director, Dr M LSidana, who is overseeing the DST-funded project told Express that theHAA can be used for resource mapping, safeguarding high-value off shoreassets and disaster management.
The airship will be powered bysolar panels and will have regenerating fuel cells which will make itoperational during night also."The National AerospaceLaboratories (NAL) has been asked to prepare a feasibility study, whichhas been completed and will be shortly submitted to the DST. Followingthe approval, a Technology Demonstrator weighing about 50 kg will bebuilt and later we can go for the production of the final version thatcan carry payloads weighing 2,000 kg," said Sidana. The HAA will place India in the select club of US, Japan, Korea, UK, Switzerland and Germany.
Sidanasaid by placing 15 to 20 airships, the entire Indian subcontinent canbe under surveillance, as one airship can survey land area of 600 kmfrom a height of 21 km.The HAA will be placed at a geostationaryposition and would have capabilities similar to a satellite at fractionof the cost, said Jitendra Singh, an NAL scientist who is part of theproject."As the airship will be very close to the earth'ssurface, it can capture and send data quickly compared to othersurveillance systems.
The HAAs can also be used for antisubmarinewarfare and airborne early warning as it can help in ballistic orcruise missile defence with its ability to send images in quick time,"said Singh