TCOM Aerostats Provide Effective and Economical Persistent Surveillance along US-Mexico Border

The Rio Grande Valley in southern Texas is one of the busiest drug smuggling and human trafficking corridors along the US-Mexico border. TCOM is partnering with US Department of Homeland Security, US Customs and Border Patrol and local governments in Texas to provide aerostat systems to enable officials to more effectively monitor border areas and detect illegal activity. This video from KGBT Action 4 News, showcases the positive impact TCOM aerostat systems have had in assisting law enforcement officials in Starr County, TX.

Read full article here

The Skies Have Eyes

Commanders in Afghanistan found the aerostat systems to be essential components to forward operations. Often those aerostats survived hurricane force winds and extreme weather conditions in hostile combat environments. Many of the aerostats used in Afghanistan have already been brought back from the battlefield and re-purposed for use in homeland security operations.

Read Entire Article Here: The Skies Have Eyes

The Rise and Fall

Unmanned lighter-than-air (LTA) technology is arguably the mother of unmanned airborne surveillance, having been around in a variety of different forms for over 100 years.

Read about TCOM aerostats and why these Mission-Critical assets are unmatched.
Download Entire Article Here: The Rise and Fall

TCOM Aerostat System Helps U.S. DHS Border Patrol Identify Threats and Improve Border Security with Real-Time ‘Eye In The Sky’ Intelligence

Nov. 18, 2013 – Columbia, MD – TCOM, the global leader in airborne persistent surveillance solutions, is supporting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to improve U.S. Border Patrol operations in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. Multiple TCOM aerostat systems are being evaluated by Border Patrol agents in key operational environments along U.S.-Mexico border. TCOM’s aerostat systems enable operators to view activity along the border that could be a threat to the public and the nation.

“TCOM’s tactical aerostats are ideal for the geography in southwest Texas,” stated TCOM President Ron Bendlin. “The elevated perspective offers broader reaching surveillance than ground systems can provide, and the mobility of the aerostat system enables operators to quickly and easily relocate the system when needed.”


The U.S. Border Patrol is now receiving assets, including TCOM’s 17M® and 22M® tactical class aerostats and 38M® operational class aerostats, to aid in detection and tracking efforts throughout the most highly trafficked areas along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Each aerostat system carries a payload of advanced sensor equipment, the same type of sensor equipment that Border Patrol agents use elsewhere. The system can typically remain aloft for two weeks to one month at a time. With operational altitudes of up to 5,000ft, the aerostats provide comprehensive monitoring of thousands of square miles. This extensive range and detailed data provide the actionable intelligence Border Patrol agents need to make mission critical security decisions and keep the Nation’s border region safe.

Tactical and operational TCOM aerostat systems consist of an aerodynamic helium-filled balloon which typically carries radar, video and communications payloads aloft to altitudes ranging from 1,000 ft up to 5,000ft. Payload data is then transmitted to a ground control station through a fiber optic tether providing secure and reliable transmission of high bandwidth data.  The system operates round-the-clock, enabling Border Patrol forces to achieve total situational awareness and identify illegal activity with enough time to evaluate and intercept.

“TCOM has provided aerostat systems to support U.S. and allied military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past decade,” added Bendlin. “Now, we’re honored to be able to apply our proven expertise in support of border security efforts right here at home.”

Border Surveillance Scenario Demonstration

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Lighter than Air

In the flatland’s just south of Elizabeth City looms a monolithic monument to a mostly forgotten chapter of World War II. We will visit the giant Weeksville hangar that harbored lighter-than-air control craft and learn how they helped turn the tide in the Atlantic. Our State is produced through a partnership between Our State magazine and UNC-TV and is made possible through generous support from BB&T. This segment first aired on November 7, 2013.

More durable Aerostat can protect troops from cruise missiles

More durable Aerostat can protect troops from cruise missiles Download Entire Article Here

Compact aerostat offers affordable portable surveillance solution

Columbia, Maryland-based TCOM last week unveiled its newest aerostat platform, the 12M Tactical Aerostat. The system is designed to meet the needs of soldiers and first responders who require a compact, affordable, persistent surveillance solution which can be transported anywhere, rapidly deployed, and easily retrieved.


September 20, 2013 Columbia, MD –  TCOM, L.P. last week unveiled its newest aerostat platform, the 12M Tactical Aerostat. The system is designed to meet the needs of soldiers and first responders who require a compact, affordable, persistent surveillance solution which can be transported anywhere, rapidly deployed, and easily retrieved. The company says the new 12M system is the most compact tactical aerostat in TCOM’s line of aerostat platforms, incorporating design innovations from the company’s battlefield-proven 17M and 22M platforms. The 12M is suitable for time-critical surveillance missions, when operators need to improve or restore domain awareness in their area of responsibility.

The 12M Tactical Aerostat is an essential tool for anyone who needs reliable surveillance or communications rapidly,” said TCOM president Ron Bendlin. “The compact size and portability allows for quick deployment, and the extended range means that operators are able to obtain actionable information when they need it most.”

The company says that like its 17M, the 12M aerostat system is versatile and simple to operate. The system can be quickly deployed from a vehicle with minimal manning and is easily transported in a single 7.5’x7.5’x6.5’ container.  The system’s mooring station is built on a versatile base which uses ISO corners to standardize mounting on various platforms or directly on the ground.

With a standard tether length to support operational altitude of 1,000 feet, the 12M Tactical Aerostat can accommodate a variety of payloads up to 60 lbs. from communications equipment to video and infrared cameras. It is currently being integrated with the Broadband Meshable Data Link (BMDL) and a stabilized turret camera for specific demonstrations. The BMDL will relay video, audio, and GPS data through a radio system mounted on the aerostat to extend the usable range far beyond that of a tactical, terrestrial antenna. The stabilized turret camera can be controlled by operators on the ground or from the mooring system using a joystick — with a surveillance area enhanced by the operational altitude of the 12M.

The company says the system is affordable, with a low hourly operating cost compared to other manned and unmanned aerial surveillance systems.

“This capability is a force multiplier for the expeditionary forces. I would have liked to have deployed with it when I was forward deployed,” stated Lieutenant General USMC (Retired) Jan Huly.

A complete 12M system will be on display at the Modern day Marine Military Expo, 24-26 September 2013, in Quantico, Virginia where TCOM will fly a fully operational unit and display a road march ready Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) carrying a fully “packed out” 12M system.

Download: TCOM Press Release New 12M Tactical Aerostat 9.20.2013.pdf

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TCOM President & CEO Ron Bendlin Featured in Washington Business Journal

TCOM President & CEO Ron Bendlin was recently interviewed by Washington Business Journal’s Jill Altoro, discussing TCOM’s company history, emerging aerostat applications and the increasing role of aerostats in border security and defense efforts.
Read the full interview here.

TCOM Revolutionizes Surveillance Aerostats with Next-Generation Ultra-Durable Hull Material

TCOM’s New Aerostat Fabric Helps Meet US Army’s JLENS Program Most Critical Needs

August 28, 2013 – Columbia, MD – TCOM, LP, the global leader in affordable persistent surveillance solutions, has announced today it has successfully deployed its revolutionary ultra-durable hull material which enables operations of surveillance aerostats in extreme weather conditions for long durations, meeting the most demanding requirements of US Army’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) program.


Responding to its military client requirements, TCOM, LP has developed a revolutionary new aerostat hull material that offers increases in overall strength, strength to weight ratio, environmental resistance against temperature and humidity, and improved helium retention.  Together, these attributes enable TCOM aerostats to fly longer at high altitudes, in greater wind and with heavier payloads than any previous generation.

TCOM has applied the new material to its new 71M high Block II altitude heavy lift aerostats in order to meet the demanding US Military requirements of the US Army’s Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System. This next generation of laminated aerostat material is stronger and lighter than all previous designs, allowing the construction of aerostats capable of lifting over 7,000 lbs and surviving winds of 100 kts.  The strength is provided by a unique structural layer and is coated with polyurethane adhesive which provides bonding to a laminated film system that includes DuPont Tedlar® film on the outside.  The Tedlar® film layer provides excellent weather protection and reduced helium permeance, enabling longer, higher surveillance missions. TCOM’s new hull enables aerostats to operate continuously in winds of up to 100 knots with blowing sand and snow and extreme temperatures of up to 130F.

“JLENS’ 360-degree long-range surveillance capability expands the battle space because JLENS can simultaneously detect and engage threats like swarming boats and anti-ship cruise missiles from up to 340 miles away,” said Dean Barten, the U.S. Army’s JLENS program manager.  As the tethered aerostat system supplier, TCOM ensured that the aerostats could remain aloft and operational for up to 30 days while meeting the JLENS altitude and payload weight requirements.

When discussing deployed 71M Block II aerostats, Ron Bendlin, TCOM President and CEO, explained “These aerostats have demonstrated the lowest lift loss of any large class aerostat while increasing strength by 30%.  We are proud to support warfighters in the US and around the globe with increased mission endurance and greater availability through reduced maintenance.”

To date, the 71M Block II systems equipped with the new hull material have accumulated over 100,000 hours of use during deployments which include the demanding JLENS System Design and Development (SDD) phase.  JLENS operators stated that “the aerostats exceeded our requirements and expectations for helium retention and durability during the demanding SDD phase of our program and the aerostats have been key to making this phase of the program a success.”

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 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.

Download: TCOM Press Release New Hull Material in Support of JLENS Program 8.28.13

JLENS Coming To East Coast in September 2014

Announced to deploy in September of 2014, a Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) will begin surveillance of the U.S coast from New York to Richmond next fall. Currently utilized by the Department of Homeland Security with great success both at home and abroad, the deployment of an east coast JLENS will provide high quality surveillance and reconnaissance to the military at a reasonable cost. The JLENS is scheduled to deploy just outside Baltimore, MD and will work to secure U.S. borders from a 10,000ft altitude and 550km surveillance distance as it travels along the eastern coastline.

Learn more about this development in aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance by reading the full article here.