New Surveillance System Provides Round-the-Clock Coverage

Logos Technologies has begun delivery of the first two electro- optical/infrared Kestrel wide-area persistent surveillance systems to the U.S. Army for deployment on aerostats at forward operating bases (FOBs) in Afghanistan. Replacing interim, day-only Kestrels rushed to the battlefield last October, the new persistent surveillance systems will now offer sensor operators on the ground round-the-clock coverage of a forward operating base’s environs. This means greater protection for the warfighter in and around “the wire.”

Previously, the only nighttime surveillance capabilities supported by aerostats were full-motion video cameras with very narrow fields of view. By contrast, Kestrel has a 360-degree field of view. Weighing less than 150 lbs, it is the only system for aerostats capable of scanning a city-sized area at once, making it virtually impossible to sneak up to, or past, a FOB.

Operators using Kestrel can open watch boxes on designated areas within the larger field of view. Then, when someone or something enters a box, the system takes a closer look, cueing a complementary MX camera for hi-res imagery. Besides conducting real-time surveillance, Kestrel can also record every event that happens in a monitored area for up to 30 days. This allows analysts to detect patterns of behavior over time, uncovering previously unidentified threats. Operators can even run this playback function in one window while monitoring an ongoing activity in another, thus gaining extra intelligence on an unfolding event.

Kestrel traces its lineage back to Constant Hawk. Also developed by Logos Technologies, this earlier persistence surveillance system has flown on Shorts 360 and MC-12W aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, respectively. In late 2010, NAVAIR and Army G2 approached Logos Technologies with the idea of putting a Constant Hawk-like system on an aerostat, and within 12 months, an interim EO solution deployed in Afghanistan.

There are currently four day-only Kestrels mounted on Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) and (Persistent Ground Surveillance System) aerostats. However, these units will be replaced by 10 E0/IR Kestrel systems and six spares by June.

Besides U.S. military backing, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection unit has also taken an interest in Kestrel, with the system recently participating in a demonstration in Nogales, Arizona.

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