US Army using Israeli surveillance tech to protect troops

Large hot-air balloons will be used to protect American soldiers deployed in operations. in Afghanistan.

July 14, 2011 05:21
1 minute read.
Skystar-180 aerostat

Skystar-180 aerostat. (photo credit: Aeronautics)


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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 in operations.

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.

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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.

Once airborne, the payload is operated from a portable control unit displaying the real-time imagery and the exact coordinates of any object of interest.

The Skystar 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.

Skystar 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.

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