According to an article in Russia’s Business Gazette, in an interview with airship expert Sergey Bendin, Russian airships could play an important counter-UAS role in future conflicts.
Bendin, who is acting head of the Moscow branch of the aeronautics commission of the Russian Geographical Society and heads the Aerosmen airship design bureau, said:
“At the last MAKS air show, I distributed a magazine from the military-industrial complex, in which I defended the position that it was necessary to create “Airshipstroy 2.0”. It would be great to spur the solution of defense tasks, these are not only airships, but also balloons…
“After all, the purpose of the airship is not only to carry cargo. But even, for example, it is possible to bring tanks to the battlefield, quickly unloading them, without reaching the front line, without entering the area under fire. The speed in a straight line is 200 kilometers per hour. Well, and most importantly, the airship can hang in the air, without landing for months, say, in an unmanned version. There are quite enough resources on board, it can provide relay communications. As you know, communication is a big problem, and often it is not always possible to establish it properly. So, having an airship high in the sky works as a great relay solution. It hangs, say, 20-30 kilometers from the front line and provides local mobile communications, distributes the Internet, and, of course, electronic warfare systems. They can carry these devices, repeaters, signal suppressors, keeping them in a given direction. For example, a large-capacity unmanned airship, hovering for a week, will provide our guys with quite serious protection against drones.”
In the interview Bendin also says it is unlikely that a decision to go-ahead with an airship counter-drone/communications hub/tank transport project will take some time, so it is unlikely that Russian airships will take to the skies in Ukraine.
“It is clear that the fighters need to go to the front right now, but this does not happen so that everything appears at once. I will answer this way: the current special military operation is not the last military conflict in which we are participating. And next time we will need these developments.”
Bendin argues that a slow flying, large aircraft like an airship may not automatically be an easy target for air defences.
“Unlike an aircraft, which is completely made of metal, so it is quite easy to catch it with radars, there is a radio transparency factor here. Recently, a situation arose when a spy balloon from China flew into the United States, it was detected visually, and not by radar. The radar did not see him! When they began to solve this topic in the political plane, a big scandal broke out. Something like that is flying, but no one knows. And after all, they couldn’t even shoot down right away, because it flies high, it’s difficult to neutralize, it is almost invisible. With the airship, the situation is exactly the same. If there are not 100 containers on board the airship, as on a steamer, then it flies unnoticed. From his side, it is safe enough to carry out surveillance.”
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