RT's Skystar 300 balloon..
(photo credit: RT LTA SYSTEMS LTD.)
The Defense Ministry has placed orders for additional Skystar 300 surveillance aerostats following their heavy usage in the summer 2014 conflict with Gaza.
Sources at RT LTA, the aerostat’s Yavne-based manufacturers, said this week that several new systems have been ordered.
Attached to a ground station by a tethering cable that transmits power, data, and two-way communications, Skystar 300 can rise to an altitude of 460 meters. It carries day and night electro-optical payloads for surveillance video feeds. It can also carry anti-improvised explosive device capabilities, as well as communications transmitters that can be used for multiple functions.
The systems are operated by the IDF’s Combat Intelligence Collections Corps unit, which can deploy them within six hours’ notice, and keep them operational for three days, before bringing the aerostat down for a helium refill.
It takes just two weeks of training for soldiers to become familiar with the system.
In March, the US Army named the Skystar 180 aerostat, a smaller version of the 300, as an approved defense technology for purchase.
RT’s Skystar 180 balloon successfully completed the annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE), a lengthy process used to shortlist defense products for US acquisition.