Russian Military Developing Blimps, Balloons, and Dirigibles

The Russian Defense Ministry has expanded their Aerospace Forces to include a new aerostatics division. This will allow them to add blimps and balloons to their battlefield options. They will be using existing Soviet-era designs along with new balloons, blimps, and dirigibles commissioned from a special service.

Blimps have proved to be efficient monitoring tools. They can carry a greater amount of surveillance equipment than typical UAVs and can float above an area for weeks without needing to refuel. Additionally, blimps can carry electronic warfare equipment, making them part of the defense grid. Many agencies, including the U.S. military, already use blimps as airborne listening posts and monitoring stations.

Blimps have been, and possibly still are, used by the Russian Aerospace Forces during the campaign against ISIS in Syria. At least one was deployed over Hmeymim airbase and another was seen over Palmyra during a classical music concert by the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Symphony Orchestra, led by Valery Gergiev.

Arkadiy Syroyezhko, chief of the UAV directorate of the Vega Radio Engineering Corporation, said that a new type of fabric suitable for aerostat construction is already being produced in Russia. The fabric is said to drastically improve the blimp’s military characteristics. He also said that several types of aerostats are undergoing final testing. They may be adopted by the military in the near future.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE