August 29, 2011 Source: Carolina Unmanned Vehicles SHEPARD GROUP
Carolina Unmanned Vehicles, Inc. (CUV), Raleigh North Carolina, announces an order for a new version of their Lightweight Aerostat System (LAS). The new LAS, being procured by Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) in support of the US Army Rapid Equipping Force (REF), will become part of an Aerostat Deception System (ADS) that simulates an Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance capability for small tactical units in Afghanistan and other locations.
The REF mission is to rapidly provide urgent capabilities to the US Army forces employed globally by harnessing current and emerging technologies in order to improve operational effectiveness. The LAS-ADS consists of an ISR deception payload attached under a small specially designed tethered blimp, called a Helikite, and a trailer Carrier that stores the Helikite and the required winch, sensors and helium tanks. CUV will provide the aerostats and all ground operating equipment while GTRI will develop the deception payloads. The LAS-ADS blimp can fly at 1000 feet for low cost, long term coverage for 24 hours a day for a week or more without maintenance or downtime. LAS-ADS will be tested by GTRI and the Army, and if found suitable, will be deployed to Afghanistan for further operational evaluation.
Traditional aerostats cannot operate in high winds unless fairly large, typically with 200 Lb of lift or more. This large size makes them unsuitable for deployment to small isolated bases. LAS uses the patented Helikite lifting aerostat from Allsopp Helikites of Great Britain. Helikites have lifting surfaces that generate aerodynamic lift to support the blimp in winds which would drive traditional designs into the ground. With the Helikite LAS can be smaller and more mobile than traditional aerostat systems yet still operate in high winds. The LAS-ADS will be able to fly in 70 knot wind. With superior mobility, mission utility and adverse weather capability, LAS still requires only two people for all operations. Versions of LAS are suitable for surveillance / security, communications relay and research for Defense and Homeland Security missions. It operates for weeks at a time at a fraction of the cost of comparable aircraft or Unmanned Air Vehicles. CUV has previously developed versions of LAS for the USAF, Sandia National Laboratories, and a large defense contractor.