(photo credit: Aeronautics)
The United States Army began using Israeli reconnaissance equipment in
Afghanistan this week with the delivery of three tactical aerostat systems –
large hot-air balloons – that will be used to protect American soldiers deployed
The delivery this week was of three Skystar-180 tactical
aerostat systems which the US Army said it intended to use to protect troops
operating in southern Afghanistan. An additional three systems are scheduled for
delivery in August.
The Skystar-180 is a small tactical aerostat system
which carries an advanced electro-optical sensor called T-STAMP which is
comprised of a daytime camera and a nighttime sensor providing an operator with
360° real-time coverage from altitudes up to 1,000 feet.
the payload is operated from a portable control unit displaying the real-time
imagery and the exact coordinates of any object of interest.
family has a target detection range of 4 kilometers from the balloon and can be
assembled and launched within 15 minutes.
The Skystar-180 is towed into
an area of operations by a light military vehicle and can be easily redeployed
to alternate locations with a small crew of just two operators.
systems are in use by the IDF, Canadian Forces in Afghanistan, the Israeli
police, and other militaries around the world for operations ranging from border
protection, intelligence operations and homeland security.
The use of
Israeli surveillance systems in Afghanistan is not new. In 2010, five NATO
member countries were operating unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) produced in the
Jewish State in anti-Taliban operations, including Germany, Australia, Spain,
France and Canada.