United States government is helping Kenya to purchase a floating airship that will enable it in conducting surveillance on terrorists, drug trafficking and smuggling of contraband goods reports the Business Daily.
Airships or aerostat are light weight aircrafts that use balloon air, helium gas, to float and are fitted with infrared cameras that capture an aerial view.
Kenya is shopping for the machines in the US market through the US department of Defence’s Foreign Military Sales. Kenya has placed an order for a 28 metre airship.
“The purpose of the airship is border security” Says thenotice on the US department website that is inviting bids from security equipment providers on behalf of Kenya.
According to Security experts’ airship has a surveillance capability that is much higher than that of a drone because it can be on air for longer without refuelling. In addition, the airship covers a wider area compared to drone and can stay afloat even with bullet holes according to Business Daily.
The airship’s weakness lies in the storm which causes it to loose complete control.
Kenya is looking to secure its north-eastern border with Somalia which is war torn due to radicalized Muslim militia, Al shabaab.
Kenya is expecting to receive a drone dubbed, ScanEagle from US aircraft manufacturer Boeing that is estimated to cost about Sh1 billion by September this year for the same purposes.
According to the report, Nairobi-based security expert Andrew Franklin said that the spy balloons cost much less than drones. Adding that the aerostat has been effectively used to gather information about criminals, pre-empt attacks and catch terrorists red-handed as they plant booby traps and improvised explosive devices (IED).