American Aerostat Reportedly Crashes in Syria

Local Syrian sources have reported that an American aerostat airborne surveillance system has crashed in Hasakah province, northeastern Syria. The exact cause of the crash remains unknown.

The Incident

While not much is known or confirmed about the incident, footage from local Syrian sources shows what appears to a Lockheed Martin Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) aerostat.

The exact location is also unconfirmed, but local sources claimed it crashed near the Rumeilan airstrip, which is controlled by American forces.

So far, there has not been any official statements by the United States Central Command (CENTCOM).

What is the Persistent Threat Detection System?

Using balloons to gather intelligence traces as far back as the American Civil War, where manned hot air balloons were used to gather information on enemy troop movements or directing artillery fire. This tactic was also widely seen during the First World War by all sides, but later shifted to being equipped with cameras and sensors throughout the Cold War.

Balloons appeared again as a viable intelligence tool during counter-terrorism operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where tethered aerostats were utilized for persistent surveillance over a wide area. Modern aerostats carry various ISR payloads and are tethered to a Mobile Mooring Platform, often situated within a base.

“The aerostats have proven to be an invaluable reconnaissance tool, gathering intelligence from 100 miles in every direction, 24 hours a day, for weeks on end, thwarting everything from the planting of IEDs in remote locations to rogue Afghan police officers extorting money from civilians at illegal checkpoints,” according to Lockheed Martin.

Looking at the aerostat seen in the footage, it appears to be a Lockheed Martin 74K PTDS aerostat.

Lockheed Martin states that the 74K system “leverages a wide-area, secure communications backbone for the integration of threat reporting from multiple available sensor assets. With more than 1.6 million combat mission flight hours, the robust design, communications relay and C4 integration on the 74K aerostat supports automated interoperability between tactical and theater surveillance assets and dissemination of operational threat data to aid interdiction of hostile fires and unconventional threats.”

Conclusion

The exact reasoning behind the aerostat’s downing remains to be confirmed, however, its presence in the area is not something to be considered out of the ordinary. With Islamic State cell activity still a persistent threat in the region, paired with increased Iran-backed Shia militia activity, the aerostat was likely conducting routine surveillance operations.

It is also important to note that Rumeilan was targeted in an explosive drone attack last March claimed by the Iran-backed Syrian militia Liwa Al-Ghaliboon, or “Conquerors Brigade,” which killed an American contractor and left five other American servicemen wounded.

The drone strike kicked off a series of tit for tat strikes between American forces and militia elements in Syria. American airstrikes on militia targets in Dier Ezzor resulted in over a dozen fighter deaths. Meanwhile, militia elements fired rockets against American forces at the al-Omar and Conoco gas and oil fields, however, no casualties were officially reported.

Atlas
Atlashttp://theatlasnews.co
Unbiased & Unfiltered News Reporting for 12+ years. Covering Geo-Political conflicts, wartime events, and vital Breaking News from around the world. Editor-In-Chief of Atlas News.

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