The RAID program is a combination of cameras and surveillance equipment positioned on high towers and aerostats. Aerostats differ from blimps in that blimps are powered, while aerostats are anchored to the ground via a cranked tether that also supplies electrical power. Because the aerostats are not highly pressurized, bullets won’t burst them and they can actually remain buoyant for hours after suffering multiple punctures.
The RAID concept used a smaller TCOM 17M instead of the TCOM 71M JLENS aerostats used for cruise missile and air defense, and has sensors optimized for battlefield surveillance rather than powerful air defense radars. The result is a form of survivable and permanent surveillance over key areas that has been deployed to Afghanistan & Iraq. It can also be deployed as a tower system, and this “Eagle Eye/ GBOSS” deployment is turning out to be the preferred mode.
Raytheon recently received a contract from the US Marine Corps for more systems, which has now been followed by a pair of additional US Army orders.
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