In todays WSJ 1/9/2013 there is a video of an aerostat being deployed in Afganistan. They do not mention the name of the company. I am not good at cutting and pasteing articles. For those interested the article is titled "WSJ Video - Afghan Army Practices With U.S. IED Spy Gear"
Thanks for posting that. Interesting. The video asked the critical question about whether they can afford to buy them. I suppose the US can supply them, but considering how many they might lose, it would be better for the US if they were buying their own. If it is a Raven product, the more they lose, the more we make....
I wonder how many are actually lost. I suppose the electronics might be damaged by enemy fire, but I believe I heard that the balloon itself can stand multiple small arms hits and only gradually lose buoyancy, thus brought down to the ground for repairs and redeployment. Raven was providing the launch crews at one time and would make repairs on site I imagine.
There are other manufacturers of aerostats too. Remember the company I visited in N. Carolina? And the division of a larger company up in Deleware as well. Can't think of either name right now.
The division that sells these units is on bubble with fiscal cliff sequestering etc. If however Raven is given ok to sell these directly through and approved supplier they may be able to avoid a bump in road for 2013 by avoiding the defense spending cuts..