Aerostats and their potential use in aiding refugees worldwide

People all across the world seek to rebuild their lives in a new country for a variety of reasons. Some people move away to pursue other opportunities, be it professional or educational. Still, many others are compelled to flee due to persecution or human rights abuses and are often termed, refugees. There are millions of refugees worldwide due to conflicts and other violent situations such as political or social turmoil. Some people don’t feel safe since they may have been singled out because of their ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or political beliefs.


A quick sweep across the map of Asia reveals how widespread forced displacement is and how varied the causes and numbers of the people affected are. According to UNHRC, there were 79.5 million people forcibly displaced worldwide at the end of 2019. Among those were 26 million refugees, half under the age of 18. Southeast Asia, in isolation, hosted 2.1 million displaced people in 2021, and almost 300,000 were refugees and asylum seekers.


In the 21st century, people can be compelled to flee from their home nations for persecution, conflict, and natural disasters. Both the frequency and severity of natural disasters, including floods, earthquakes, storms, and mudslides, are rising. Even though most displaced people stay within their own country because of these disasters, others may choose to cross international borders because of them and in response to other manufactured disasters, such as extreme economic or social distress.


The protection of refugees has many aspects. These include safety from being returned to danger and access to fair and efficient asylum procedures. A technology that can come to their rescue is that of Aerostats. While aerostats are an excellent means to detect illegal migrants worldwide, the aerostat balloon system can also help border officials with a clearer view of approaching refugees. In fact, recent years have seen significant interest in using aerostats as solutions to long-loitering observation and border monitoring applications.


Due to their ability to circumvent the main drawback of aircraft-based systems – limited fuel and flight time – Aerostats have gained prominence as valuable tools for long-term continuous ISR. Due to advancements in materials and manufacturing techniques, modern aerostats are sturdier, resistant to damage, spacious, and have an increased carrying capacity. They can carry payloads ranging from communications sensors to Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) systems. They can also take day and night (cooled IR) cameras with ever-higher reliability, range, quality, and resolution to help identify approaching refugees from long distances and to provide them with immediate aid.


Investment in research and development of tactical aerostat systems is led by companies like the Wynyard Group and SkyStar 180. Aerostats from the Wynyard Group will likely be equipped with radars, various monitoring cameras, and Automatic Identification Systems. They can simultaneously support passive surveillance payloads like COMINT, SIGINT, and ELINT, thermal imaging, optical sensors, and communications payloads at the lowest possible hourly cost for an airborne asset. The early detection and direct communications with air and sea assets will also afford the critical window of time to evaluate all refugee situations, coordinate forces, and engage to aid refugees in making their way to safer countries with the help of border security authorities.