The Strategic Role of Tactical Maritime Aerostats in Ensuring Persistent Surveillance

By Matt McNiel

Increasing geopolitical tensions in the South China Sea have created a strategic impetus for the United States and its regional allies to reassess what, how, where, and when a real or perceived threat becomes imminent to strategic interests in this region of the world. Now more than ever, persistent situational awareness is critical. However, unlike traditional landlocked conflict zones, the South China Sea presents a unique challenge as ISR must be successful in multi-modal environments including air, land, and maritime environments.

Adding to that complexity is the presence of largely populated areas in multiple countries proximate to the conflict zone, making it difficult to select one tool or method to create an effective operational ‘big picture’ for decision makers. In recent media reports, it was widely reported that regional states such as the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, are actively increasing their proactive vigilance. Wisely, they are also considering an all-of-the-above approach for their defenses for  ensuring full situational awareness with optimized intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) for land, air, and sea domains.

Even with modern advancements in ISR technologies, there is simply no one solution that can persistently provide all of the intelligence needed. However, one of the most effective, efficient, and fast-to-deploy solutions to help critical decision makers get the information they require is the lighter-than-air Tactical Maritime Aerostat. These battle-tested systems are loaded with the latest ISR technology that can be used to monitor and gather intelligence from a highly reliable platform hovering over strategic points and providing an “eye in the sky” for concerned governments.

TCOM 17M at San Diego Naval Base. (Image courtesy of TCOM LP)
TCOM 17M at San Diego Naval Base. (Image courtesy of TCOM LP)

Aerostat Attributes and Advantages

Aerostats offer persistent surveillance solutions that have unique advantages over traditional ground-based radar and onboard surveillance systems. For example, when naval vessels are moored or transiting port waters, they are subject to unique surveillance and security challenges. Threats such as small, fast moving boats are not easily detectable using traditional ship-mounted cameras or ground-based radar. Conversely, aerostat systems act as a “virtual fence” along coastlines, around vessels, or the port perimeter by providing continuous, real-time monitoring of activities from an aerial perspective. The system can detect threats at greater range and in the blind spots of traditional surface based sensors, providing security forces with more time to think, react, engage, and neutralize threats at a port.

Tactical Class Aerostat systems such as the 12M, 17M, 22M, and 28M are ideal for  maritime deployment, on land, or directly from a vessel at sea. These aerostats can be assembled and deployed in a very short period and manned by a minimal crew. This allows commanders to use the aerostat system in areas, or when escorting a High-Value Unit (HVU). The aerostat system can carry payloads including day/night EO/IR cameras, radars, communications relays, and electronic warfare packages. The aerostat can be deployed from the deck of a vessel or a static location such as a a dock or onshore mooring station. The larger size aerostat systems (22M, 28M) have greater capacity that allows the Operational Class systems to operate at higher altitudes for greater surveillance range while remaining aloft for up to two weeks at a time, ensuring round-the-clock persistent surveillance for highly trafficked areas and maritime borders.

A TCOM 22M payload. (Image courtesy of TCOM)
A TCOM 22M payload. (Image courtesy of TCOM LP)

As South China Sea claimants consider different monitoring options, aerostat systems offer several key competitive advantages over other platforms. The first is cost. Aerostat systems require comparably minimal maintenance, resulting in an exceptionally low hourly operational cost. This allows users to obtain highly accurate, real-time surveillance data, at a remarkably low total cost of ownership. Secondly, aerostat systems are capable of being on station for weeks at a time. This ensures that there are fewer lapses in coverage due to refueling or unexpected mechanical issues. Third and perhaps most importantly, aerostats payloads are easily reconfigurable allowing the platform to be retrofitted to accommodate the latest ISR technologies in ‘minutes’ compared to ‘months’ and without the need to re-qualify the airframe for safety of flight. For example, aerostat systems could function as a versatile platform for ISR payloads, including electro-optical/infrared cameras, radar, video, communications relays, and even cellular data and Wi-Fi. Operators can easily swap out a broad variety of actionable surveillance data and communications options to meet different missions using the aerostat system’s rapidly reconfigurable “Plug and Play” architecture. Aerostats are highly resilient and suited for harsh operating conditions. Due to the inert nature of Helium gas with which the aerostat is inflated, aerostat systems do not combust and are highly durable in flight. The proof is in the battlefield. For example, aerostat systems deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan during combat have been documented to remain aloft and functional even after being hit by direct gunfire. The low pressure within the aerostat hull allows the system to stay aloft even when punctured.

Aerostats systems have the payload size, weight and power capacity to support high-performance radars that can detect aircraft operating well beyond the coverage of ground-based radars. With an advanced maritime radar, a single sea surveillance system can track maritime targets at distances of 60 nautical miles and cover thousands of square miles for weeks at a time. In addition to the radar, the aerostat can simultaneously support passive surveillance payloads like COMINT, SIGINT, and ELINT, thermal imaging and optical sensors, as well as communications payloads at the lowest possible hourly cost for an airborne asset. The early detection and direct communications with air and sea assets afford the critical window of time to evaluate the situation, coordinate forces, and engage.

How does it work? Consider the scenario of a crowded port environment where many ships and small craft are transiting through highly congested waterways. A naval vessel enters a port but is limited to using surveillance equipment that looks outward from the deck level. There may also be ground-based equipment on shore. Together these systems are unable to see all the critical activity at the water level. A low, fast moving boat  quickly approaches a larger vessel undetected by traditional methods. This scenario occurred in 2000 with the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. Aerostat system monitoring the entire port area from hundreds or thousands of feet above would provide early warning to the larger vessel, allowing for a timely reaction. The system could have provided actionable intelligence that allowed for a greater window of time for forces to intercept or engage.

aerostat 3
Difference in coverage between aerostat based radar and coastal, ground-based radar. (Image courtesy of TCOM LP)

Operational Track Record

Aerostats provide a highly beneficial secondary function.  Any increase in effectiveness of supported troops is very quickly attributed to the aerostats and significantly modifies threat behaviors while the system is in flight. As this effect applies in the case of land applications, U.S. forces at Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) were often assaulted by lone insurgents, and improved explosive devices were placed just outside normal observation areas. Invariably, the deployment of aerostats to the FOBs saw an immediate increase in allied counterstrikes. Within a short amount of time, local leadership would find that enemy operations had relocated entirely or were curtailed exclusively to times when the aerostat was not flying.

Within the maritime domain, this same effect was found to be true for counter narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea. Additionally, aerostats have proven highly effective at monitoring migrant vessels and providing cues to rescue operations when necessary.

Just like the best engineered automobiles or aircraft, aerostats are not perfect. They need to be tested and designed to meet specific field conditions and payloads. Additionally, operators must be well trained to to achieve maximum effectiveness. In contradiction to some, apparently uninformed media reports , history clearly shows that aerostats are highly reliable. Moreover, they have been and are still successfully used around the world in regional conflict zones such as the Middle East, Afghanistan, the Indian sub-continent, North America, and soon to be in Southeast Asia. With a proven track record of 45 years with millions of airborne hours of persistent surveillance in austere environments, aerostats are here to stay and are growing as innovators continue to find new uses for this reliable lighter-than-air platform.

Conclusion

As government decision makers consider using a multi-mode surveillance approach, aerostats stand out in their potential to serve as eyes in the sky in the South China Sea and other maritime regions that have been immersed in perceived threats and real conflict. They are easy to deploy, operate in multiple environments, are efficient and technology-agnostic. Aerostat systems need little time to deploy and have lower maintenance requirements at a substantially lower hourly operational cost than conventional aircraft and drones. Moreover, aerostats offers a combination of wide viewing angles and high resolution for more precise identification of small objects as well as surveillance of larger areas. In short, aerostats enable true persistent, real-time tactical ISR at an affordable cost.

Matt McNiel is Vice President of TCOM, LP, a global ISR solutions provider of Lighter-Than-Air Persistent Surveillance Tethered Aerostat platforms for Air, Maritime and Land. He can be reached at Media@Tcomlp.com.

Featured Image courtesy of TCOM LP.

A Beginner’s Guide to Aerostats

…In the last 30 years and even more so in recent years, as threats and technology have evolved and the need for 24/7 ISR has increased, helium-filled balloons—aerostats—have returned to the field. They are increasingly recognized as useful tools for long-term continuous ISR, as they overcome the greatest disadvantage of aircraft-based systems – limited fuel and flight time. They may also provide a visual deterrence to illegal activity, as they are lowered only for refueling and maintenance sessions…

Continue reading the FULL ARTICLE HERE ON MONGABAY WILDTECH

TCOM 74M aerostat__Youtube

Surveillance and communication – the enormous TCOM 74M aerostat. Photo credit: TCOM

Rise in HAP-based Wireless Communication Services to Spur High Altitude Platforms…

According to a new market report published by Transparency Market Research “High Altitude Platforms Market – Global Industry Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 – 2023,” the high altitude platforms (HAPs) market was valued at US$2.30 bn in 2014 and is estimated to reach US$4.77 bn by 2023, expanding at a CAGR of 8.7% from 2015 to 2023. North America accounted for the largest share, in terms of revenue, of the HAPs market in 2014. With high adoption of advanced UAV aircrafts and tethered aerostat systems, especially in the U.S., North America is expected to remain dominant throughout the forecast period. Asia Pacific is projected to emerge as the fastest-growing market for HAPs during the forecast period, expanding at a CAGR of 10.0% from 2015 to 2023. The market growth of HAPs in Asia Pacific region is mainly driven by the strong and increasing expenditure in HAP-based surveillance systems in China, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and South Korea. Another significant factor boosting market growth is the growing Internet penetration and increasing demand for high-speed wireless communication services.

 

…The global high attitude platforms market comprises players such as TCOM L.P., Lockheed Martin Corporation, Raytheon Company, Aerostar International, Inc. (Raven Industries, Inc.), Lindstrand Technologies Ltd., ILC Dover LP., Israel Aviation Industries Ltd., AeroVironment, Inc., Worldwide Aeros Corporation, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd…

Continue reading the FULL ARTICLE HERE ON PR NEWSWIRE

12M Blimps Can Now Assist Emergency Response Efforts

TCOM, a global leader in persistent surveillance Aerostat solutions and Logos Technologies LLC, an innovative developer of advanced sensors for Wide Area Motion Imagery (WAMI), have successfully demonstrated a 12m aerostat—or tethered blimp—with WAMI sensor designed for persistent surveillance in a number of scenarios, including emergency response, disaster relief and monitoring large crowd gatherings.

The demonstration took place at TCOM’s Persistent Surveillance Center of Excellence (CoE) in Elizabeth City, NC last month. Logos’ lightweight Simera wide-area sensor was integrated onto and flown on a TCOM 12M Tactical Aerostat.

TCOM’s 12M aerostat system provides a compact and portable platform. The aerostat enables rapid deployment and retrieval, enabling operators in the field to obtain actionable surveillance data at rapid clip. The 12M has a payload weight capability of 60lbs (27kg) and a mission endurance of up to 5 days.

The Simera system, at only 40lbs (18 kg), provides persistent coverage of a full 360 degree area to the operator. High-definition imagery from the full 360 field of view is available in near real time and is continuously recorded for immediate rewind or historical analysis.

Logos indicated Simera’s affordability and rapid deploy capability make the system an excellent wide area persistent coverage tool for disaster relief, counter-terrorism, sporting event security, anti-poaching monitoring and port or rail security.

“TCOM sees great value in the inclusion of WAMI sensors into our suite of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and force protection payloads already integrated onto our existing family of tactical aerostats,” said Ron Bendlin, president and CEO of TCOM, in a statement. “These WAMI systems, when paired with sensors providing full-motion video (FMV), greatly increase the persistent surveillance collection and forensics analysis tools that are highly advantageous for our customers with requirements in the areas of law enforcement, emergency response, critical asset protection, force protection, as well as other areas.”

TCOM Vice President, Business Development, Matthew McNiel, told Homeland Security Today he foresees a number of applications for the 12m aerostat with WAMI sensor, including aiding first responders by offering a significant advantage in situational awareness.

McNiel said, “When coupled with additional payloads, it could also provide local non-line of sight communications via hand held radio or cell phone in the absence of operational towers.”

In addition, the system is also ideal for border security. TCOM’s tethered aerostats have already provided the US Coast Guard, US Air Force, and Customs authorities with the range and reliability needed to enforce border security.

“The elevated position provided by the aerostat enables the wide area motion imagery sensor to cover a circular area of approximately 95 square kilometers with persistent, video imagery and full forensic capability,” McNiel said. “This provides, not only real-time surveillance, but significant advantage in forensic exploitation.”

Through the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS), TCOM aerostat systems along the southern US land and maritime borders have consistently deterred airborne and surface smugglers, and have provided authorities with real-time actionable intelligence needed to take decisive action.

“As essential assets in the TARS program, TCOM aerostats continue to serve as steadfast sentinels, keeping citizens safe, and our nation’s border under constant guard,” McNiel said.

As with any surveillance system, privacy concerns have been raised. While TCOM supports the military and homeland security missions, it does not provide data, but rather the platform approved by the government programs.

“Surveillance systems, by nature, run counter to privacy concerns,” McNiel said. “However, there are no aspects to the WAMI system as tested at TCOM’s Center of Excellence that are more invasive than traditional closed circuit TV (such as local security cameras or traffic/red light cameras).”

 By: Corey Diehl, Staff Writer for Homeland Security

To view the entire article from Homeland Security, click HERE.

TCOM and Logos Technologies successfully demonstrate Wide-Area Motion Imagery (WAMI) Sensor at TCOM’s Persistent Surveillance Center of Excellence

COLUMBIA, MD – TCOM and Logos Technologies successfully demonstrated an exportable color version of Logos’ lightweight Simera wide-area sensor onboard a TCOM 12M™ Tactical Aerostat. The demonstration took place at TCOM’s Persistent Surveillance Center of Excellence (CoE) in Elizabeth City, NC during the first week of July and was attended by both domestic and foreign audiences.Logos WAMI Sensor on TCOM 12M Aerostat

The Simera sensor was integrated onto and flown on the TCOM 12M™ Aerostat system. TCOM’s 12M™ Aerostat system provides an extremely compact and portable platform and is ideally suited to carry the Simera to its optimal altitudes. The 12M™ offers rapid deployment and retrieval, enabling operators in the field to obtain actionable surveillance data faster than ever before. The 12M™ has a payload weight capability of 60lbs (27kg) and a mission endurance of up to 5 days.

The Simera system, at only 40lbs (18 kg), provides persistent coverage of a full 360o area to the operator. Imagery from the full 360o field of view is available in near real time and is continuously recorded for immediate rewind or historical analysis. Simera is a high-performance, adaptable system that offers the reliable near real time and forensic data needed to make critical assessments and take decisive action in the field.

“TCOM sees great value in the inclusion of WAMI sensors into our suite of ISR and force protection payloads already integrated onto our existing family of tactical aerostats,” says Ron Bendlin, President and CEO of TCOM. “These WAMI systems, when paired with sensors providing full-motion video (FMV), greatly increase the persistent surveillance collection and forensics analysis tools that are highly advantageous for our customers with requirements in the areas of law enforcement, emergency response, critical asset protection, force protection, as well as other areas”.

Traditional narrow field-of-view cameras will continue to be a mainstay on aerostats for long-range surveillance, but they cannot survey multiple areas of interest simultaneously and unavoidably miss many marks. The combination of both a narrow field-of-view of a FMV camera and a WAMI sensor can be incorporated in a manner which enables the operators to persistently monitor a large area of interest in both day- and night-time applications and provide slew- to-cue capability for closer surveillance when required.

TCOM established its Persistent Surveillance Solutions Center of Excellence (CoE) at the company’s Manufacturing and Flight Testing Facility in Elizabeth City, NC in 2014. TCOM’s Elizabeth City facility has long served as the East Coast’s primary hub for LTA systems’ manufacturing, assembly, and testing. The Center of Excellence was created to expand the company’s capabilities to include integration testing of platforms, payloads, sensors, and PED technologies in partnership with manufacturers from around the globe to further the development of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Systems.

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About TCOM, L.P.:
TCOM is the global leader in persistent surveillance solutions. For over 40 years, the company’s pioneering innovations have defined the persistent surveillance and Lighter-than-Air industries. By blending leading edge technology, manufacturing, and field operation capabilities, TCOM has provided systems for United States and foreign governments with complete persistent surveillance capabilities. Our systems are in use around the globe including theaters of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. TCOM’s delivered systems include fixed-site deployments, fully transportable systems, and specialized sea-based deployments. TCOM’s headquarters is based in Columbia, MD, and the Manufacturing & Flight Test Facility is located near Elizabeth City, NC. TCOM is the only company in the world devoted to cost-effective LTA surveillance solutions with in-house aerostat and airship manufacture, assembly, flight test, and training capabilities. Learn more at www.tcomlp.com.

About Logos Technologies:
Founded in 1996, Logos Technologies LLC is a diversified science, engineering and technology company specializing in the fields of advanced sensors, wide area motion imagery, advanced analytics, and processing of large, multisource datasets. Logos serves government customers including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security, as well as a range of customers in commercial and international markets. Learn more at www.logos-technologies.com.

TCOM wins the Government Security News magazine competition as the Best Coastal Surveillance Solution for 2015

View the entire article HERE

June 22, 2015

GSN is pleased to announce the Winners and Finalists in its 2015 annual Airport, Seaport, Border Security Awards Program, which once again demonstrates the spectacular scientific achievements and dedication to homeland security that are shared by the public-private partnership of vendor companies and federal, state and local government agencies.

The program has been expanded in 2015 to include new categories such as Satellite Communications and Search and Rescue, supplementing the core technologies of Access Control & Identification, Detection, Communications, Perimeter Protection and Video Surveillance, all of which continue to improve, evolve and integrate to create stronger defenses.

The program also salutes government agencies and their vendors that have completed truly spectacular security upgrades at Airports and Seaports and in all aspects of Border Security. The “Most Notable” initiatives described in the government category also include a dramatic rescue in Antarctica by the U.S. Coast Guard and a world-class National Identity Card created by HID Global and DGM Sistemas Lda (DGA) of Luanda for the government of Angola, which now has over 6-million users.

Details of these fabulous accomplishments will be available to readers of the 2015 Digital Yearbook of Airport, Seaport, Border Security Awards Winners that GSN will produce in the next 30 days!

GSN would like to thank the distinguished judge of this year’s program, Chuck Brooks, Vice President for Government Relations and Marketing for Sutherland Global Services. Chuck is also an advisor to the Bill and Melinda Gates Technology Partner networks and is well-known in the Homeland Security field as founder and owner of the two largest Homeland Security discussion groups on Linkedin. In government, he served at the Department of Homeland Security as the first Director of Legislative Affairs for the Science and Technology Directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a senior adviser to the late Senator Arlen Spector. In academia, Chuck was an Adjunct Faculty Member at Johns Hopkins University and also taught at George Washington University. He is a well-known speaker and has contributed a number of articles to Government Security News and other publications in the Homeland Security field.

CATEGORY: Access Control/Identification

Best Biometric Identification Solution – WINNER: Cross Match

Best ePassport Solution – WINNER: Securiport

Best Physical/Logical Privileged Access Solution – WINNERS: Honeywell Security

Stanley Security Technologies (Tie)

CATEGORY: Best Detection Solutions

Best Biological/Chemical Detection – WINNERS: Bruker Detection/Chemring Sensors (Tie);

FINALIST: Teknoscan

Best Cargo /Vehicle Screening – WINNER: Advanced Cargo Screening,

FINALISTS: Implant Sciences, Teknoscan

Best Explosives/Narcotics/Contraband Detection – WINNER: Surescan Corporation,

FINALISTS: Implant Sciences, Teknoscan

Best Nuclear/Radiation Detection – WINNER: Rapiscan Systems

Best Security Checkpoint (persons, baggage, parcels) – WINNER – Implant Sciences

FINALIST – Global Elite

CATEGORY: Communications Solutions

Best Satellite AIS Solution – WINNER: PortVision

Best Man Overboard Tracking – WINNER: PureTech Systems

Best Mass Notification System – WINNER: LRAD Corporation,

FINALISTS: AtHoc, Regroup Mass Notification

Best Acoustic Hailing Service – WINNER: LRAD

CATEGORY: Surveillance Systems

***Best Coastal Surveillance Solutions – WINNER – TCOM, LP***

Best Video Analytics Solutions – WINNER: NICE SYSTEMS

FINALIST: ProVideo/Golden Eye

Best Video Analytics/Intrusion Detection – WINNER: Honeywell Security

Best Long-Range/Day-Night Surveillance – WINNER: CoHuHD Costar

CATEGORY: Best Perimeter Protection, Fencing, Gates, Guard Booths

Best Fencing, Barriers, Bollards, Gates – WINNERS: Betafence (Fences), Tilt-A-Way (Gates)

Best Guard Service/Facility Protection Service – WINNER: GLOBAL ELITE

Best Integrated Perimeter Protection Solution – WINNERS: Fiber Sensys, Gallagher (Tie)

CATEGORY: Best Integrated Security Programs

Best Geographic Information Service GIS Application – WINNER: Network Harbor

Best Physical Security Information Management Solution (PSIM) – WINNER: Honeywell Security

FINALISTS Network Harbor, NICE Systems

Best Integrated Harbor Security Program – WINNER – Emergency Response Technology, LLC

CATEGORY: Most Notable Government, Government/Industry Security Programs

Most Notable Airport Security Program, Project, Upgrade – WINNER: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport

FINALIST: Transportation Security Administration

Most Notable Border Security Program, Project, Upgrade – WINNER: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Most Notable National ID Solution – WINNER: HID Global and DGM Sistemas Lda

Most Notable Search and Rescue of the Year – WINNER: United States Coast Guard

Most Notable Seaport Security Program, Project, Upgrade – WINNER: The Mariner Group

FINALIST: Port of Corpus Christi and CohuHD Costar

Aerospace Persistent Surveillance Leader Expands in Global Markets through Strategic Public Relations & Increased Brand Mindshare

Thanks to Borenstein Group for making TCOM a featured placement in high-profile publications helping us to earn global recognition, ultimately supporting new business growth in the aerostat, manufacturing and surveillance industry.

 

Read Borenstein Group’s PR Challenge, Strategic Solution and Results for TCOM, L.P.

Logos demos first and only wide-area sensor for export at TCOM’s Center of Excellence in Elizabeth City, NC

View Business Wire press link for this article HERE

FAIRFAX, Va.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Logos Technologies successfully demonstrated its new, lightweight Simera wide-area sensor aboard an aerostat, or tethered blimp, at TCOM’s Persistent Surveillance Solutions Center of Excellence in Elizabeth City, N.C.

“It’s the smallest aerostat-mounted WAMI system with this level of capability being marketed and sold abroad”

The demonstration, which took place in February and followed on the heels of field tests in late January, proved the maturity of the Simera airborne wide area motion imagery (WAMI) system for both military and civilian customers.

“Simera was able to locate and track targets of interest over a city-sized area in real time,” says John Marion, president of Logos Technologies, LLC, “and its TiVo-like recording function allowed operators to analyze activity captured within Simera’s 360-degree field of view.”

Simera is based on Kestrel, the only aerostat-based WAMI sensor used on the battlefield. Also developed by Logos, Kestrel has been deployed at forward operating bases in Afghanistan since 2011, providing troops with round-the-clock protection against IED attacks.

Weighing only 40lbs (18 kg), Simera can be employed on a wider variety of platforms than Kestrel, including fast-to-deploy tactical aerostats. In addition, it is not subject to the same export restrictions.

“It’s the smallest aerostat-mounted WAMI system with this level of capability being marketed and sold abroad,” Marion notes.

Logos has a long history developing WAMI sensors. It pioneered the first such system for manned aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan and has since been miniaturizing its WAMI sensors for use on both tactical aerostats and small unmanned aircraft.

Aerostat manufacturer TCOM opened its Center of Excellence last year in order to provide government and private industry a site where they could conduct integration testing for platforms, payloads and data processing, exploitation and exploitation technologies.

About Logos Technologies

Founded in 1996, Logos Technologies LLC is a diversified science, engineering and technology company specializing in the fields of advanced sensors, wide area motion imagery, cyber operations, advanced analytics and processing of large, multisource datasets. Logos serves government customers including the Department of Defense, Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security, as well as a range of customers in commercial and international markets. Learn more at www.logos-technologies.com.

 

Contacts

Logos Technologies LLC
Susan Kerin
Director of Communications
703-237-6550
skerin@logos-technologies.com

 

JLENS Time Lapse Inflation Video

U.S. Northern Command released a time lapse inflation video of the JLENS aerostat at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland.

Video Released by: Maj. Beth Smith,
JLENS Public Affairs Officer
NORAD USNORTHCOM Public Affairs
719-554-6889

Aerostats Gaining Over Aircraft for Maritime Surveillance: TCOM President

TCOM President Ron Bendlin talks about the burgeoning aerostat market, its defense surveillance capabilities and the competitive advantage it has over surveillance aircraft.

TCOM President Ron Bendlin talks about the burgeoning aerostat market, its defense surveillance capabilities and the competitive advantage it has over surveillance aircraft.

TCOM is a US-based manufacturer of airborne persistent surveillance solutions. According to the company’s website, “TCOM innovations have defined the industry, and our pioneering achievements continue to revolutionize the design, manufacture and deployment of LTA systems.”

Columbia, MD – Nov. 19, 2014 

Questions and Answers

Q : Aerostat systems are gaining popularity in the maritime surveillance security division. What do you attribute this to?
Ron Bendlin
:

Aerostat persistent surveillance systems offer unique advantages over traditional ground-based radar, and onboard surveillance systems. When naval vessels are moored or transiting port waters, they are subject to unique surveillance and security challenges. Threats such as small, low, fast moving boats aren’t easily detectable using traditional ship-mounted cameras or ground-based radar.

TCOM’s aerostat system acts as a “virtual fence” along coastlines, around vessels or around the port perimeter, providing continuous, real time monitoring of activities from an aerial perspective. The camera turret mounted on the aerostat increases the sensor’s area of coverage and reduces blind spots due to obstructions. With this elevated perspective, the system is able to detect threats that would have gone unnoticed. Most importantly, it detects threats sooner, providing security forces with more time to think, react, engage and neutralize threats at port.

TCOM’s Tactical Class and Operational Class aerostat systems (12M, 17M, 22M and 28M) are ideal for the maritime deployment, directly from a vessel at sea. These aerostats can be assembled and deployed in just a few short hours, and manned by a minimal crew. This allows commanders to elect to deploy the aerostat system upon approaching dangerous areas, or when escorting a High Value Unit (HVU). The aerostat system can carry payloads including day/night EO/IR cameras, radars, comms relay and more. The aerostat can be deployed from the deck of a moving vessel, or stationary from a barge or a dock.

Further, TCOM’s Operational Class aerostat systems (22M, 28M) can also be deployed from a mooring station on shore. The larger size and capacity allow the Operational Class systems to operate at higher altitudes for greater surveillance range while remaining aloft for up to two weeks at a time, ensuring round-the-clock persistent surveillance for highly trafficked areas and maritime borders.

Q : What is the competitive advantage of Aerostats over Maritime Surveillance Aircraft?
Ron Bendlin
:

There are several significant advantages. The first is cost. Aerostat systems require comparably minimal time to assemble and deploy, very little maintenance all at an exceptionally low hourly operational cost. This allows operators to obtain highly accurate, real-time surveillance data to inform smarter decisions, at a remarkably low total cost of ownership. Secondly, the aerostat system is capable of sustained on-station operation spanning weeks at a time.

This ensures that there are fewer lapses in coverage due to refueling or unexpected mechanical issues. Further, the aerostat system functions as a versatile platform for ISR payloads, including electro-optical/infrared cameras, radar, video, communications relay, even cellular data and Wi-Fi. This means that depending on configuration, with a single aerostat system, operators are able to obtain a broad variety of actionable surveillance data and communications options.

Q : It is said that security forces will be able to detect threats that would have previously gone unseen using Aerostats. Please elaborate.
Ron Bendlin
:

Consider the scenario of a crowded port environment. Many ships and small craft transiting through highly congested waterways. A naval vessel enters port, but is limited to using surveillance equipment that looks outward from the deck level. In addition there may be ground-based equipment on shore. These systems together are unable to see the critical activity at the water level. A low, fast moving boat can quickly approach a larger vessel undetected by traditional methods.

This occurred in 2000 with the terrorist attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen. The aerostat system, equipped with sensor payloads, is capable of monitoring the entire port area, for example, including activity at the water level because it is looking down from hundreds or thousands of feet above. The system is able to detect threats and provide leaders with actionable intelligence with a greater window of time to enable forces to intercept or engage.

Q : Could Aerostats be vulnerable to threats such as missiles or aircraft? How can they be defended?
Ron Bendlin
:

Due to the inert nature of Helium (the gas with which the aerostat is inflated), aerostat systems do not combust, and are highly resilient in flight. Aerostat systems deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan during combat have been documented to remain aloft and functional even after being hit by gunfire. The low pressure within the aerostat hull allows the system to remain aloft even when punctured. More importantly, many aerostat systems operate at altitudes between 1000m and 5000m depending on the size and payload, which ensures that they are out of range of many threats from the ground.

Q : How big is the Aerostat market right now? What is its expected growth potential?
Ron Bendlin
:

According to a new market research report, “Aerostat Systems Market by Aerostat Class (Small, Medium, Large), by Balloon Type (Spheroidal, Ellipsoidal), by Payload (Electro-Optics , Thermal Imaging Camera , Electronic Intelligence, Surveillance Radar, INS), by Geography (North America, Europe, APAC, Latin America, Middle East) – Market Forecast & Analysis to 2013 – 2020” The aerostat systems market is projected to rise from $3.93 billion in 2014 to $9.96 billion by 2020, at an estimated CAGR of 16.68%. Amongst which North America and Europe are currently dominating the market; but the markets for regions of APAC and the Middle East are expected to show increase by 2020.

Q : Who are your primary customers? Are you pursuing any contracts abroad?
Ron Bendlin
:

TCOM’s primary customers are the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and allied governments and militaries around the world. TCOM is a partner to nations that need reliable, affordable persistent surveillance solutions to enhance border security and improve national defense.

Q : Could you elaborate on TCOM’s elevated surveillance solutions?
Ron Bendlin
:

Air Surveillance:
TCOM air surveillance systems utilize the largest class of tethered aerostats, which can routinely operate at elevations of 15,000 feet. The aerostats have the payload size, weight and power capacity to support high performance, long-range radars that can unmask aircraft operating well below the coverage pattern of ground based radars.

The aerostat borne radar can detect these targets, acquire and track very quickly and maintain track on quickly maneuvering targets. In addition to the radar, the aerostat can simultaneously support passive surveillance payloads like COMINT, SIGINT and ELINT.  GCI radios on the aerostat allow direct voice communications between air controllers and their interceptors even at very low altitudes.  The extended range of of these platforms, along with the ability to operate continuously for weeks on end, provides security forces with the intelligence necessary to detect threats far earlier than ground-based systems alone. Early detection affords more time to react and engage these threats.

Land Surveillance:
TCOM Land surveillance systems employ small, medium or large aerostats depending upon the nature of the threat, the operational site, location and required operational altitude. Each aerostat is equipped with proven payloads that are designed to detect and track targets over even the most challenging terrain. TCOM aerostat systems typically carry cutting-edge optical sensors, thermal imaging systems, radars and passive communications intelligence technologies that provide ground forces with actionable data in a timely manner. This early detection of potential threats affords the critical window of time needed to coordinate forces and engage threats, if necessary.

Maritime Surveillance:
TCOM Sea surveillance systems use our medium-class tethered aerostats, equipped with an advanced maritime radar, thermal imaging and optical sensors, and communications payloads that detect and track maritime targets at distances of 60 nautical miles and beyond. A single sea surveillance system can cover thousands of square miles for weeks at a time at the lowest possible hourly cost for an airborne asset. The early detection and direct communications with air and sea assets affords the critical window of time to evaluate the situation, coordinate forces and engage.

Q : Which other companies offer Aerostat based radar solutions and what advantage do you offer to your customers?

Ron Bendlin :

There are other companies that provide aerostat systems. However, no other system has incorporated the many innovative features and technologies that TCOM has developed in over forty years to provide the reliability needed to meet the demand. TCOM continues to develop new innovations that enhance aerostat-system performance, durability and overall effectiveness. TCOM has developed a Center of Excellence in Elizabeth City, NC that promotes innovation in the Lighter-than-Air industry, serving as the central hub of activity driving new ideas and development of new technologies.

Over the past 40 years, TCOM engineers have introduced countless innovations including advanced materials, clean room construction, modern payload integration techniques, reliable ground based power systems and simplified ground control equipment. Our ongoing advancements continue to revolutionize LTA system design and manufacturing techniques. TCOM aerostats are the standard to which all others aspire. Here are just a few reasons why:

Pioneering Achievements:

-First to use laminate materials for aerostat fabrics
-First fiber-optic powered tether system
-First tether to double as LF communications antenna
-First aerostat provider to offer customized payloads and mooring systems
-First lightning protection systems for tethered aerostats
-First fully integrated modular mooring system
-First modern aerostat system to broadcast radio and TV
-First aerostat to carry electronic payloads for US-allied foreign nations
-First sea-based aerostat system
-First aerostat system to remain deployed for missions of 30 days or longer
-First and only company to deploy an aerostat at an altitude of 20,000 feet above ground station
-Produced largest aerostat ever in operation
-Longest ongoing aerostat surveillance operations

TCOM persistent surveillance systems can be customized for a wide range of deployment environments. The complete systems provide total domain awareness, improving mission effectiveness and efficiency. In every environment, TCOM systems provide mission-critical details in time for decision makers to take appropriate action.

Defense World Interview: Read Here