Lockheed Martin has delivered a 56,000-cubic-foot tethered aerostat surveillance system to the U.S. Army for deployment in Iraq. The aerostat is equipped with a variety of sensors which combine to provide a persistent surveillance capability in the defence of ground forces and high-value assets. The aerostat is currently being tested prior to transportation to Iraq.Lockheed Martin integrated and tested the 56K Aerostat Surveillance System in its Akron Airdock, where space allows short ascents to check out the mechanical operation of the mooring system and many other system components. The Airdock is 1,175 feet long, 325 feet wide and 210 feet high."We awarded this sole source contract to Lockheed Martin based upon the Army's urgent requirement and the company's ability to deliver a capability in 120 days after contract award," said Steve Kostek of the U.S. Army's Robotic Unmanned Sensors office.Aerostats and other lighter-than-air systems provide low-cost, long-endurance surveillance capabilities not possible with other types of aircraft. Attached by a high-strength cable to a mooring system, aerostats may carry different types of surveillance sensors to conduct multiple missions. They are filled with helium and stay airborne around-the-clock.Lockheed Martin has extensive experience with aerostats, serving as the systems integrator, and operations and maintenance provider for the Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) operated by the U.S. Air Force along the southern U.S. border. TARS uses Lockheed Martin's larger 420K (420,000 cubic feet) tethered aerostats and L-88 radar in support of air sovereignty and counter-drug operations conducted by North American Aerospace Defence Command, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs Air and Marine Interdiction Coordination Centre.
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