“New Eyes in the Sky for Coast Guard and CBP” –USNI

A Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) balloon being tested in 2019. The aerostat-borne surveillance system provides radar detection and monitoring of aircraft and surface targets along the U.S.-Mexico border and in the Gulf of Mexico.

The March issue of US Naval Institute Proceedings reports,

It is not only China that is getting into balloon-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR). (See “Spy Balloons.”) A little-noticed provision of the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) directs that “not fewer than 1 tethered aerostat radar system, or similar technology” be provided to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “for use by the Coast Guard” to improve situational awareness regarding a variety of illegal activities in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Gulf Coast.

The Aerostat is positioned on South Padre Island and is controlled by Customs and Border Protection but should help with Maritime Domain Awareness.

Might be worth asking why the Coast Guard does not control this asset, but it may be particularly useful for intercepting airborne smuggling which is no longer a Coast Guard mission.

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