Global satellite communications (SATCOM) provider SES is using small aerostats to provide an affordable way to establish and maintain SATCOM and a persistent surveillance capability.
Tactical Persistent Surveillance (TPS) not only provides cost-effective enhanced situational awareness but it can be set up and operational in 30 minutes even in areas where infrastructure is non-existent or destroyed, according to SES.
Although aerostats equipped with persistent surveillance sensors are not new, a number of companies have systems deployed to Afghanistan for force protection or along the United States southern border for border security, what is new about SES' TPS is that for the first time an aerostat will be SATCOM enabled, Nicole Robinson, corporate vice-president of government market solutions for SES, told IHS Jane's.
Adding a SATCOM capability now enables the sensor aboard the aerostat to transmit intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) video and data over satellite using small aperture and quick to deploy flyaway Ku-band antennas, according to SES.
Sensor data are transmitted to a ground station down a tether that uses copper instead of fibre optics. Copper is a better material to work with for tethers, Dave Codacovi, general manager of government technologies for SES told IHS Jane's.
Processing occurs at the ground station, which is made up of a couple of rack units of equipment, modems, and spectrum analysers. The data are then transmitted via SATCOM to anywhere in the world, Robinson said.
"You can imagine networking aerostats around a particular area of interest and all of that imagery is being collected and sent back to a headquarters located anywhere in the world for complete situational awareness of what is going on [at those locations]," she said.
The company launched its new offering with a demonstration in Reston, Virginia on 22 September. Of the 12 international representatives on hand for the event, three have asked for written proposals for a technical solution.
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