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Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID)

The innovative Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) system employed a variety of sensors tethered from an aerostat, and later evolving to other platforms, including fixed towers and relocated masts. The RAID Mission is a perimeter surveillance mission that had cameras in six locations throughout Regional Command East, Afghanistan. This mission is currently partnered with a Sentinel Radar Mission that had five sentinel radars in RC East. Due to remote forward operating base locations, the NCOICs of each separate team are very independent and a systematic relief in place is critical for mission success. The remote locations can take days to get to and from the headquarter location in Bagram and weather issues can cause even longer delays. Due to this time constraint the RIP timeline is tight.

In the Persistent Ground Surveillance System, lighter-than-air vehicles are equipped with day and night cameras and combined with a ground control station. Aerostats, are just one of the technologies the Pentagon is rushing to Afghanistan to battle the rise in homemade bombs, which continue to be the top killer of US and allied troops fighting the Taliban insurgency. Seven of the aerostats were in-country by May 2010, and 31 were expected to be in place by the end of 2010.

By late 2008 over 300 Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) towers and over 60 'blimp' systems had been deployed as part of the Persistent Surveillance and Dissemination Systems (PSDS2) fielded in Iraq and Afghanistan, safeguarding forward operating bases (FOB), improving surveillance in day and night in response to evolving threats.These systems are widely used for the protection of forward operating bases (FOB) in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since its initial deployment in Afghanistan in 2003, over 60 systems have been deployed in Iraq.

The system uses a 17 meter aerostat carrying a payload with a total weight of 200 pounds at an elevation of about 1,000 feet. Larger (32, 38 meter) aerostat configurations are in development to support heavier payloads of up to 1,000 pounds, elevated to altitudes of 2,500 feet. RAID systems are also employed on towers elevating to 107 feet in height. The tower version uses a 80 foot and 107 foot towers. The US Marine Corps deploys the system designated Ground-Based Operational Surveillance System (G-BOSS) employing two cameras, a radar and a radio link to a remote ground station. The Army's Base Expeditionary Targeting and Surveillance Systems - Combined (BETSS-C) uses a single camera.



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