Drones offer many potential advantages for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) applications, such as threat identification and documentation, antiterrorism, border security, harbor and port security, and loss prevention. However, there are many instances in which drones are not practical because they don’t meet regulatory or safety requirements, because their limited payloads can’t accommodate the required surveillance equipment, or because they can’t stay in the air long enough to accomplish the mission. Lighter-than-air (LTA) airships, also known as blimps, are being used increasingly to replace or complement drones: This type of aircraft faces far fewer regulatory and safety issues, can carry much larger and more varied payloads, and can stay in the air for longer periods of time.

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