TCOM—a global leader for innovative, cost-effective Airborne Persistent Surveillance solutions—joined forces with the Maryland Commerce Department, to present at this year’s Avalon Air Show in Geelong, Australia.
The Avalon Air Show is one of the most prestigious aviation and aerospace events in the Southern Hemisphere, with more than 600 exhibitors and 150 delegations. The event is organized by Aerospace Australia Limited, a not-for-profit corporation, whose mission is to promote aviation and the development of Australia’s industrial, manufacturing and information/communications technology resources for aviation, aerospace and defense.
At this year’s show, TCOM was proud to show off their latest aerostat innovations, displaying two posters focusing on maritime and border security for Australia and Southeast Asia. Increasing geopolitical tensions in maritime zones worldwide and in the Asia-Pacific regions have created a strategic impetus to consider new surveillance platforms for identifying real and perceived threats as they become imminent. Now, more than ever, persistent situational awareness is critical. However, unlike traditional landlocked conflict zones, maritime surveillance presents a unique challenge as ISR must be successful in multi-modal environments including air, land, and maritime environments. Adding to that complexity is the presence of largely populated areas in multiple countries proximate to the conflict zone, making it difficult to select one tool or method to create an effective operational ‘big picture’ for decision makers.
Recently it was widely reported that regional states such as the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea, are actively increasing their proactive vigilance. Wisely, they are also considering an all-of-the-above approach for their defenses to ensure full situational awareness with optimized intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) for land, air, and sea domains.
TCOM showcased the practical applications for ISR with its 28M aerostat, one of its leading Operational Class aerostats, which are ideal for monitoring areas in which ground-based surveillance would be rendered ineffective by domain obstructions, or where manned aerial surveillance is deemed too costly.
Versatile Operational Class aerostat systems may carry payloads that include radar, SIGINT and COMMS Relay to altitudes as high as 5,000 ft above ground and stay 30 days on station. This makes the systems ideal for maritime surveillance applications, protecting ports and costal borders, as well as inland border surveillance applications.
TCOM’s 28M is one of the most widely-used aerostat systems available today. The 28M offers battle-proven reliability and can be customized with multiple payload configurations to meet the most demanding mission requirements. TCOM Operational Class aerostat systems offer unrivaled versatility and performance. These medium-sized aerostat systems offer both the flexibility and portability for accelerated launch and retrieval, along with the capacity for sustained deployment for up to two weeks at a time.
Consider the scenario of a crowded port environment where many ships and small craft are transiting through highly congested waterways. A naval vessel enters a port but is limited to using surveillance equipment that looks outward from the deck level. There may also be ground-based equipment on shore. Together these systems are unable to see all the critical activity at the water level. A low, fast moving boat quickly approaches a larger vessel undetected by traditional methods. This scenario occurred in 2000 with the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in Yemen. Aerostat system monitoring the entire port area from hundreds or thousands of feet above would provide early warning to the larger vessel, allowing for a timely reaction. The system could have provided actionable intelligence that allowed for a greater window of time for forces to intercept or engage.
As government decision makers consider using a multi-mode surveillance approach, TCOM’s aerostats stand out in their potential to serve as eyes in the sky in international waters and other maritime regions that have been immersed in perceived threats and real conflict. They are easy to deploy, operate in multiple environments, are efficient and technology-agnostic. Aerostat systems need little time to deploy and have lower maintenance requirements at a substantially lower hourly operational cost than conventional aircraft and drones. Moreover, aerostats offer a combination of wide viewing angles and high resolution for more precise identification of small objects as well as surveillance of larger areas. In short, aerostats enable true persistent, real-time tactical ISR at an affordable cost.
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About Avalon Air Show:
The Australian International Airshow and Aerospace & Defense Exposition is two concurrent events; an exhibition and trade show, followed by a public airshow.
About TCOM, LP:
TCOM, LP is a global leader of Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance (ISR) solutions of Lighter-than-Air Persistent Surveillance Tethered Aerostat platforms for Air, Maritime, and Land. For over 40 years, the company’s pioneering innovations have defined the persistent surveillance and Lighter-than-Air industries. By blending leading edge technology, manufacturing and field operation capabilities, TCOM has provided ISR systems for the United States and foreign governments with complete persistent surveillance capabilities. Our systems are in use around the globe including theaters of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. TCOM’s delivered systems include fixed-site deployments, fully transportable systems and specialized sea-based deployments. TCOM’s headquarters are based in Columbia, MD and the Manufacturing & Flight Test Facility is located near Elizabeth City, NC. TCOM is the only company in the world devoted to cost-effective LTA surveillance solutions with in-house aerostat and airship manufacture, assembly, flight test, and training capabilities. Learn more at http://www.tcomlp.com
After the aerostat system has been manufactured and tested, the payloads that were selected in the system design phase are then integrated onto the aerostat to complete the Aerostat Persistent Surveillance System. The system undergoes final testing to verify that it meets the customer’s operational requirements.
Engineered for Performance
TCOM begins system integration by mounting each payload in the locations chosen to provide the correct field of view, to minimize interference from other on-board payloads and to correctly balance the aerostat for flight. If required, TCOM can provide gimbal mounting for stabilization and INS/GPS for geo-referencing. Environmental packaging is added as required for lightweight weather protection, lightning and environmental protection. The size and weight of the payloads will dictate the load distribution for payload mounting trusses laced onto the aerostat structure. Power for the payloads is provided from power distribution modules in the on-board avionics. Two-way communications for data and control is provided to the Aerostat System Ground Control Station. Here, at the ground control station, the data for the different sensors is correlated and displayed on a common operating display to verify successful integration. Where required by the customer, the data from the ground control station can be disseminated to multiple remote stations with recording and archiving and a full set of analysis tools. A comprehensive testing program is generated to ensure that the integrated system meets all the end user requirements.
Proven Global Success
The result of TCOM’s approach to the provision of Aerostat Persistent Surveillance Systems is unmatched and well documented. TCOM has provided aerostat systems with integrated multiple active and passive sensors in more countries around the world than any other aerostat system provider.