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LIGHTWEIGHT AEROSTAT SYSTEM (LAS) - Military Applications

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STMPAS Mil One Pager 201531.8 KB

Lightweight Aerostat System (LAS)
1.0 MISSION NEED Iraq and Afghanistan operations show pressing requirements for a low cost, responsive, and mobile system to elevate electronic payloads to a few thousand feet altitude. Foremost is Persistent Surveillance for 24/7 EO/IR and radar surveillance around base camps. Also needed are Networked Communications Relays to dispersed forces, convoys, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAS) or Unmanned Ground Vehicles (UGV) without using scarce satellite bandwidth. Forward deployed units need surveillance and communications connectivity with lower logistics and manpower costs than satellites, aircraft or UAS but with more coverage and fewer blind spots than towers.
The most efficient means to meet these needs is a low cost, mobile aerostat system. However, traditional aerostats are large and manpower intensive. Their ground equipment has very limited mobility and lengthy set-up times, limiting their use to a few large sites. Carolina Unmanned Vehicles has developed a Lightweight Aerostat System (LAS) to remove these limitations, creating a very cost effective system.
1.1 LAS Concept LAS consists of a small specially designed tethered blimp, called a Helikite, mounted on a single HMMWV trailer Carrier (Fig. 1). The LAS blimp can be flown at several hundred to thousand feet altitude to provide coverage 24 hours a day for a week or more without maintenance or downtime. Surveillance versions at 500 to 1,000 feet can cover a radius of 14 NM, depending upon terrain. LAS can elevate a communications relay payload up to 4000 feet, providing extended communication coverage out to 50 NM or more from its location. Intelligence collection and other payloads can be carried.
1.2 LAS Operational Advantages The patented Helikite combines helium and wind lift so even very small sizes operate easily in high wind, allowing LAS to be a fraction of the cost and manpower of traditional lighter-than-air designs. LAS is very mobile and cost-effective through use of unique designs to reduce the need for ground crews to handle the blimp during launch and recovery. It is carried by a single HMMWV trailer and operated by a two person crew. Operating and maintenance cost is a fraction of the cost of using aircraft or UAS to lift surveillance or relay payloads. It does not require the complicated flight clearances needed for UAS deconfliction with manned aircraft.
Compared to towers, UAS and aircraft LAS has significant operational advantages for mobile surveillance and communications relay. It covers a far larger area than tower based cameras, and has reduced blind spots due to obstacles in the field of view (Fig. 2).

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