Ordinarily, when a military unit wants to set up surveillance, they have to build a short mast or tower, and that takes time. It also can't be more than a couple of hundred feet high. That doesn't allow for a very wide-ranging view– perhaps a mile or a bit more in very flat land. Getting as high as 2,000 feet pushes the horizon back a long way.
The blimp itself consists of two layers. One holds the helium, and the other is a tough canvas. Estrella said while it is vulnerable as it is rising, at 2,000 feet it wouldn't be an easy target for small arms fire – an expert sniper might be able to hit it, but not very often. Even then it wouldn't empty out like the toy balloons kids play with because the helium inside is not under pressure.
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It's not just for the military. "You could use it for pipeline monitoring or extra security at the World Cup," Estrella said. It would also be useful in disaster areas, where the normal communications networks are down. Non-military models are also cheaper, about $100,000 as opposed to $300,000.