The Tethered Aerostat Radar System, often abbreviated as TAR, is an American medium-altitude airborne low altitude radar system which uses tethered aerostats as radars. Other similar systems such as the EL/M-2083 have similar functions but also use a number of high resolution imaging cameras. The JLENS (aka “Joint Land Management Equipment”) is the most complete and advanced autonomous aerial vehicle surveillance system using a number of high resolution imaging cameras.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Using tethered Aerostats
This system has received a lot of press over the last year or so because of its ability to operate both indoors and outdoors at the same time and has proven to be very cost effective in both cases. Low level aerostats such as the JLENS are able to cover large areas relatively quickly due to their ability to move along and back between poles in the case of low volume communication. As well as being able to cover large areas quickly, they are also able to maintain constant communications link to their operators even when moving around. This form of autonomous operation ensures that a tethered aerostat can operate in either a fully autonomous mode or in a semi-autonomous mode, depending on the condition of the communication links.
The main advantage of using tethered aerostats for visual deterrence is that they allow higher level surveillance than either tethered or partially untethered systems would allow. This means that a fixed aerostat mounted beneath a second aircraft can both constantly monitor a large area with visual resolution to detect any potential threat and move in to take evasive action. In addition, both types of surveillance can easily move out of harm’s way if a visual detection problem should exist where manned aircraft may be vulnerable. These systems offer excellent value for money as both aerial surveillance and visual deterrence are exceptionally useful for controlling airspace and maintaining visibility over certain areas of interest to a large number of users.