Presenting SkyStar 120 & Skystar 110 – both ideal for SOF
In an interview for SOFIC 2019 Leadership Insights, Rami Shmueli, CEO, RT LTA Systems Ltd., answered some of MONCh US Correspondent Marty Kauchak’s questions.
MONCh: This is RT’s first appearance at SOFIC. You have some important information about your company and its portfolio to convey to the delegates when they visit your booth (#1818) at The Israeli Pavilion. For our awareness, where will we find RT aerostats in service with the US military and other nations’ forces?
Rami Shmueli: RT’s SkyStar systems already accomplished more than 1.5 million operational hours worldwide and are currently operational by military forces in many different countries including Canada, France, Israel and others. The US Army has used RT’s aerostat systems in Afghanistan for camp and forward operating base protection.
MONCh: Share with us some of the trends and requirements you are seeing in the SOF market space and other military sectors for aerostats.
Rami Shmueli: RT’s SkyStar 110 and SkyStar 120 are ideal for SOF, due to their ability to capture and transmit videos and pictures from the third-dimension perspective, secretly and over long periods of time. Unlike a UAV, using an aerostat allows special forces to plan and execute missions while controlling the area from above. Moreover, RT’s aerostat can carry different kinds of payloads, including cameras, communication relay, cellular interception sensors and radars. An aerostat that carries a communication relay can expand the Line-Of-Sight and dramatically enhance the communications between the forces, at the field and in the command and control unit. Further, SkyStar 110 is ideal for SOF as it provides field commanders with real-time “over the hill” reconnaissance capability, and SkyStar 120 is ideal for Special Forces operating in rough terrain, as it allows the operating force to keep moving and maneuvering with the aerostat on the ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) alongside them, either filled with helium and ready to be launched or already flying in the air. This allows the operating force to better fit the observation and communication lines in real time according to field conditions. In addition, RT’s SkyStar aerostats are ideal for border and coastal security, camp protection, perimeter security, crisis and emergency management, law enforcement and public safety, search and rescue, VIP protection, and other defence missions.
MONCh: Provide the business case to invest in your aerostats, in particular, your smaller, tactical variants, compared with man-portable and other UAVs.
Rami Shmueli: First, we don’t think that there’s a competition – because the best thing to do is to use both an aerostat and a UAV, as they are complimentary defence means, each of them with its own advantages. However, there are a lot of advantages for using aerostats. Using an aerostat resembles building a tower of 1,500ft (0.46km) in only 20 minutes, and at a minimal cost of $(US)10 per day. This tower is able to stay stable for days, focusing on a specific target and providing persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Moreover, when using an aerostat, the data is transmitted from the sensor to the ground through an optical fiber tether – so the enemy can’t block, disrupt, or hack this data. An aerostat can carry multiple payloads and heavier weights, and still to be highly cost effective. Actually, neither UAV’s, nor any other defence systems, manned or unmanned, are as cost effective as aerostats!
MONCh: Do you have preferred suppliers of onboard payloads, or do you typically provide best of breed sensor solutions based on customer requirements?
Rami Shmueli: RT’s aerostats are payload agnostic, so that we provide the best sensor solution based on the customers’ requirements.
MONCh: Tell us about the products, in particular new ones, your team will exhibit or be able to discuss with delegates at 2019 SOFIC this week.
Rami Shmueli: At SOFIC, RT will present its SkyStar 120 mobile micro-tactical aerostat system, and it’s Skystar 110 micro-balloon system – both are ideal for SOF. SkyStar 120 is a micro-tactical aerostat system. Its Ground Control Station is mounted on an ATV that can drive through most kinds of terrain, allowing the operating force to keep moving and maneuver-ing with the aerostat on the ATV alongside them, either filled with helium and ready to be launched or already flying in the air. This allows the operating force to better fit the observation and communication lines in real time according to field conditions. Compact and robust, the SkyStar 120 is operational under extreme weather conditions and offers surveillance range of up to 1,500 feet. Skystar 110 is a micro-balloon system designed to provide field commanders with real-time, “over the hill” reconnaissance capability. The system is compact, robust and can be transported, assembled, launched and operated by only two personnel after minimal training. Backpack or pickup truck transportable, the system can be assembled and launched in 15 minutes, for a 1,500 ft surveillance range. SkyStar 110 Handheld Personal Ground Control Station (PGCS) is a compact unit that can be worn over a protective vest or mounted on a tripod. SkyStar 110 is operational under extreme weather conditions with low operational and maintenance costs.
MONCh: And finally, what should MONCh be attentive to during the remainder of 2019 from RT in terms of new products for the military, shipments for existing defence contracts, partnerships, others.
Rami Shmueli: During the remainder of 2019 we will deliver SkyStar 110 and SkyStar 180 aerostat systems to the Mexican Prison Service. We will also deliver SkyStar aerostat systems to unspecified European armies, for their operations abroad.
MONCh: Thank you.