DHS assessing TCOM aerostats for border security
The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is evaluating a number of TCOM aerostat systems to assess their airborne persistent surveillance capabilities for US-Mexico border patrol operations.
TCOM has supplied 17M and 22M tactical class aerostats and 38M operational class aerostats to DHS for assessment in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. The assets will be used to aid operators in detection and tracking efforts throughout the most highly trafficked areas along the US-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 can provide monitoring of thousands of square miles, providing actionable intelligence and contributing to border security.
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 1,000ft-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.
Ron Bendlin, president, TCOM, said: ‘TCOM's tactical aerostats are ideal for the geography in southwest Texas. 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.
‘TCOM has provided aerostat systems to support US and allied military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan for the past decade. Now, we're honored to be able to apply our proven expertise in support of border security efforts right here at home.’
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