“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.

Coast Guard Kicks Off Arctic Technology Evaluation 2018–Acquisitions Directorate

Members of the Coast Guard Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program (CG-926) and the Research and Development Center are in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, to test usage of unmanned systems in the Arctic in Arctic Technology Evaluation 2018. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Alexandra Swan.

The following is a quote from the Acquisitions Directorate (CG-9) Web Site:

Coast Guard Kicks Off Arctic Technology Evaluation 2018

July 25, 2018

The Coast Guard is conducting its 2018 Arctic Technology Evaluation July 21-Aug. 3, 2018, in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

This year’s Arctic research will focus on evaluating how unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), unmanned surface vehicles (USV) and an aerostat balloon can work together as a network. The Coast Guard’s Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (RDT&E) Program and Research and Development Center (RDC) are partnering with Alaska Clean Seas for this year’s activities.

The research team will conduct a number of search and rescue and environmental testing scenarios, including using the unmanned systems to detect a life raft and evaluating capabilities to detect and sample a simulated oil spill. The unmanned systems will be integrated with Persistent Systems Man Pack Unit 5 radios (MPU5) to test the potential communication relay. The research team will also compare UAS sensor performance at high latitudes with data gathered through the RDT&E Program’s Robotic Aircraft Sensor Program for Maritime.

For more information: Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Program page and Research and Development Center page