Lockheed Martin Announces COTS (Commercial Off-The-Shelf) Aerostat Surveillance System
AKRON, OH, February 10th, 1999 -- Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems, Akron, will demonstrate its commercial off-the-shelf, rapid-response, small aerostat surveillance system for use in military and commercial applications at the upcoming Association of the U.S. Army Symposium, February 15-17, at Orlando's Radisson Twin Towers Hotel. A two-person crew deploys this local surveillance system in less than two hours to an altitude of 1,000 feet. At altitude, the Class IV-shaped aerostat delivers radar coverage out to a 30-kilometer circumference, optical coverage to 10-plus kilometers, and relays communications to 70 kilometers depending upon the type of sensor deployed. With the ability to interchange electronics suites, the aerostat can serve in a number of roles to support other force components. One trailer contains the deflated 8K (8,000 cubic feet) aerostat surveillance system and all of its equipment, serves as the deployment and operations vehicle and is the communications headquarters. The trailer fits into the cargo hold of a transport aircraft and connects to a standard dual- axle pickup truck for deployment. An electro-optical camera, the most-often-used surveillance sensor, can be supplemented with an infrared camera, or replaced by a radar, electronic support measures (ESM), laser designator or other equipment on the same aerostat. Low total system cost give users the ability to field several 8K systems, each with a different sensor. When integrated, this complementary surveillance approach provides a depth of protection not possible with other airborne or ground assets. Ronald G. E. Browning, director of Lockheed Martin's Surveillance Systems Business Development, said, "Mobility of any tactical surveillance equipment is paramount to effective protection. Our 8K aerostat system gets to different trouble spots as fast as the forces that support it. If there is a need 100 miles down the road, the crew inhauls the aerostat, packs all the equipment into the trailer within two hours, and moves on down the road. Setup is just as fast." Besides military applications, this system is ideal for use by both immigration control and border security services as a mobile deterrent to groups who try to avoid border checkpoints. With its rapid response, the presence of such a system serves as a visual warning as well as a wide-area detection device. Browning says that this system will be marketed to safety forces assigned to protect tourists and civilian crowds at attention-grabbing special events that require protection in light of recent terrorist strikes. Browning also sees this type of eye in the sky as an ideal platform to survey damage and direct personnel during emergencies and on the heels of natural disasters. To date, 8K aerostats primarily have served as television camera platforms above sporting events such as the college football Bowl Championship Series Fiesta Bowl and tournaments on the Association of Tennis Professionals tour. Lockheed Martin's partner, TetherCam, Inc., of Canada, has operated this system at a number of events nationwide. "What makes this platform ideal for all types of sensors is its Class IV shape, the most aerodynamically stable shape available. This shape has been proven on a number of aerostat sizes in operational use today," Browning said. Lockheed Martin has other, much larger aerostats available for deployment at fixed sites. "Our 420K Aerostat is the platform of choice by the U.S. Air Force for deployment in the Tethered Aerostat Radar Surveillance (TARS) systems along the southern U.S. border," Browning reports. "These aerostats, equipped with Lockheed Martin L-88 radars, have been on duty for a number of years." Lockheed Martin Tactical Defense Systems in Akron, Ohio, with about 1,100 employees in the U.S., is the Lockheed Martin center of excellence for lighter-than-air technology and a part of Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems. The business unit is also a premier provider of tactical flight simulation and training systems, tactical defense and platform self-protection systems, and naval instrumentation and controls for customers worldwide. Naval Electronics and Surveillance Systems is the largest business organization in Lockheed Martin Electronics Sector, a leader in the design, development and manufacture of advanced electronic systems for global defense, aerospace, civil and commercial markets.