The German Bundeswehr has ordered a tethered balloon-based area reconnaissance system, known as an aerostat, from Rheinmetall to protect a forward operating base in Niger. The order represents sales of over €21 million net, and will give the Bundeswehr a new means of protecting its forces deployed in Niger.
Rheinmetall Canada will be in charge of integrating the surveillance balloon’s sensors into the existing military C4I architecture. The U.S. armed forces have been using such area surveillance solutions for years to protect their forward operating bases.
The balloons’ highly sensitive sensors enable them to spot hostile elements even at great distances to protect the installation for extensive periods.
The Bundeswehr will be able to deploy this solution day and night to identify potentially hostile elements several kilometres away, making it possible to initiate necessary countermeasures on a timely basis. Experience has shown that systems of this type reduce the likelihood of an attack by hostile forces by 50% because the possibility of being detected is high.
Rheinmetall will run the system in Niger 24/7 with soldiers in special workstations on the ground operating the system’s sensors. Under the contract, Rheinmetall will train these troops to perform their future tasks prior to deployment.