A small Israeli company may provide the US with an alternative to surveillance drones.
The American military is currently engaged in its annual Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment (AEWE) held at Fort Benning Georgia, during which Israel’s RT technologies is showcasing its Skystar 180. The remote controlled surveillance balloon can fly up to 1, 000 feet high while taking pictures of objects on the ground. This makes it an alternative to drones currently in use and if all goes well the Skystar 180 might be acquired by the US armed forces.
RT Technologies is one of three Israeli companies to have entered their devices for consideration at AEWE. It’s CEO, Rami Shmuely, said of the event, “The AEWE is an important way the US Army and other American forces decide what new technologies to buy. To be on the AEWE ‘short list, ’ as we are, is a great honor.”
“We are competing against companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Our entire office could probably fit in their reception room, ” Shmuely said of his company’s competition.
Shmuely also thinks that RT’s balloons are better suited for the task than the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or drones that are currently used. “We have the only long-distance aerial surveillance system that can operate from as high as 600 meters. Our SkyStar 180 system uses a very sturdy and strong helium balloon, and is ideal for observing and protecting fixed sites, such as military bases, temporary camps, strategic facilities and border crossing checkpoints, ” he said.
The Skystar 180 tactical aerostat system is 19.5 feet in diameter and can carry a payload of up to 6.5 kilograms. It is a highly mobile aerostat suitable for tactical mid-range surveillance defense and security applications as well as public safety, police and military applications. By providing an elevated platform, well above the field of operation, the system offers a dominating view of the scene below. It can operate up to 3 days straight with only a 20 minutes re-inflation break after 72 hours; it performs in all weather conditions; has high mobility and a very small logistical footprint; is simple to operate and is highly cost effective.
Skystar is competing with over 400 other technologies which were also entered into this year’s competition. Final decisions on procurement will be made in December.
Established in 2006, the AEWE’s mission is to provide a “credible and repetitive operational venue to experiment with small unit concepts and capabilities; to examine technologies of promise; and to accelerate capabilities development.” It strives to enhance the effectiveness of small units.
It aims to support joint experimentation and to provide an operational venue in which to conduct joint capabilities demonstrations so that the best new technologies can be acquired by the American military.
Companies from around the world are therefore encouraged to submit their new technologies. If approved by AEWE, a company’s technology and product will become eligible for procurement by the US military.
While the IDF has recently had its budget cut, this has not happened to the US Armed Forces. A military contract in America is still a golden opportunity for a small new company like RT.
Founded in 2009, RT Technologies is a designer, developer and manufacturer of the SkyStar family of aerostats for use in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and communications applications. RT manufactures self-contained, versatile, easily transportable, cost-effective tactical systems comprised of a mobile control station, ground system module, tether, lighter-than-air platform, stabilized payload platform and sophisticated sensor suite. The systems are currently deployed in countries such as Israel, Afghanistan, Mexico, Thailand, Canada, Africa and Russia.
Based in Yavne, the company has offices in Texas and operates an incubator in Beer Sheva with Ben Gurion University.
It is one of the smallest companies competing in this year’s AEWE.