India will issue an international tender for an aerostat-based surveillance radar system by mid-2013. These new radars will be operated by the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The IAF currently operates two aerostats which have been purchased from Rafael Advanced Defense Systems of Israel. According to the company’s official literature its aerostat-based surveillance products can be positioned at an altitude of 6,096 metres (20,000 feet) providing 482 kilometres (260 nautical miles) of coverage when carrying up to 2,500 kilograms (5,500 pounds) of sensors. These sensors can include a surveillance radar along with optronics, signals intelligence and communications packages.
A number of companies are expected to bid for the tender including BAE Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Thales and Rosoboronexport, in addition to Rafael.
These firms bring with them expertise in aerostat-mounted radar. In late May, Lockheed Martin delivered the 29th Persistent Threat Aerostat Detection System (PTDS) to the US Army. IAI, meanwhile, provides the EL/M-2083 aerostat-mounted air surveillance radar via its Elta Systems subsidiary. This radar uses technology developed for the company’s EL/M-2080 Green Pine L-band ground-based missile defence radar. Furthermore, Northrop Grumman has successfully mounted its STARLite lightweight, tactical synthetic aperture and ground/dismounted moving target indicator radar onboard the PTDS system (see above).