The Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) is an American low-level airborne ground surveillance system that uses aerostats (moored balloons) as radar platforms.

Poland is hoping to spend $1.2 billion.

The U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency published the following notice regarding the potential sale.

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Poland of Airspace and Surface Radar Reconnaissance aerostat systems and related elements of logistics and program support for an estimated cost of $1.2 billion. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of Poland has requested to buy Airspace and Surface Radar Reconnaissance (ASRR) aerostat systems; Airborne Early Warning (AEW) Radars with Identification of Friend or Foe (IFF) capability; electronic sensor systems; mooring systems with powered tether with embedded fiber optics; Ground Control Systems (GCS); associated installation hardware; special tools and test equipment; Basic Issue Items (BII); program management support; verification testing; systems technical support; transportation; spare and repair parts; communications equipment; operators and maintenance manuals; personnel training and training equipment; tool and test equipment; repair and return; publications and technical documentation; Quality Assurance Team (QAT); U.S. Government and contractor engineering, technical, and logistics support services; in-country Field Service Representatives (FSR); and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated total program cost is $1.2 billion.

The proposed sale will support the foreign policy goals and national security objectives of the United States by improving the security of a NATO Ally that is a force for political stability and economic progress in Europe.

The proposed sale will improve Poland’s capability to meet current and future threats of enemy air and ground weapons systems. Poland will use the capability as an airborne early warning system to defend against incoming regional threats. This will also enable Poland to increase its contribution to future NATO operations. Poland will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces.

The principal contractors will be Raytheon Intelligence and Space, of El Segundo, CA; TCOM, L.P., of Columbia, MD; ELTA North America, of Annapolis Junction, MD; and Avantus Federal LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of QinetiQ, Inc.), of McLean, VA. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.

Implementation of this proposed sale will require contractor representatives to travel to Poland to conduct the Contractor Logistics Support, training, and component assembly support. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defense readiness as a result of this proposed sale.”

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
15 days ago

Pointless waiting for the balloon to go up only to find you’ve been caught with your pants down. I tend to get the impression that Poland is showing the rest of Europe the way forward. Keel for first Polish Swordfish frigate laid05 February 2024 “A keel-laying ceremony for Poland’s first Project 106 Miecznik (Swordfish)-class frigate was held at the Polish Armaments Group (Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa: PGZ) Naval Shipyard in Gdynia on 31 January, PGZ has confirmed. The future ORP Wicher (274) is the first of three multi-purpose frigates in the class being built by PGZ Naval Shipyard in co-operation with… Read more »

Frank
Frank
15 days ago

It might just be all hot air though……. no seriously, this has been a subject discussed here briefly a few times over the years…. especially a shipborne tethered version….. Imagine a Sampson Radar at 10,000ft …. I know it’s probably a bit silly but heck, what if ?

Coll
Coll
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Well, check out Hybrid Air Vehicles Airlander. They did a presentation a while ago and discussed a possible surveillance application. It wasn’t Sampson and more ground but the principle is there.

Edit: I didn’t realise BAE Sytems are teaming up with Hybrid Air Vehicles.

Last edited 15 days ago by Coll
DiscoDave
DiscoDave
15 days ago

In the event of the balloon going up (sorry couldn’t resist) wouldn’t these be easy to target and take out if they are tethered to fixed points, bit like the observation balloons in wwi

Frank
Frank
15 days ago
Reply to  DiscoDave

The Idea of having the Radar is to be able to detect incoming threats, way before they become one…. If you look at T45, Sampson is as high as the design could practically allow…. having a Balloon based Radar gives a whole new layer/level of detection capability.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank

And balloons and airships too for that matter, are very stealthy as compared to aircraft. That said I don’t know how this system actually operates, so I assume it is mobile so that its location isn’t obvious to an enemy.

FOSTERSMAN
FOSTERSMAN
15 days ago
Reply to  DiscoDave

You get a sort of redundancy if the naval vessel had these, if the enemy target the radar it saves the said vessel from being hit. Also adds a layer of stealth because the ship remains unseen somewhere in the vicinity.

harryb
harryb
15 days ago

Would this not be a useful tool on the south coast to help detect small boat crossings. Surely a high attitude look down system would be able to identify the small boats before they even enter the water.

Frank
Frank
15 days ago
Reply to  harryb

And then do what ?…… Twin mounted Lewis Guns ? ….. Speed Camera Fines? ULEZ compliance checks ?

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank

No intercept them and detain them.

Frank
Frank
15 days ago
Reply to  Harry Bulpit

And then what…. Is it any different to what already happens ? I don’t get why you wrote “surely a high altitude look down system would be able to identify the small boats before they even enter the water”…. That would imply the boats would be on French Soil…. Why would we be doing this for them ?
(assuming harryb is also harry Bulpit as well ?)

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
14 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Yeah. The issue isn’t the detection, it’s what we do with them once arrived.
They know full well hardly any are ever deported. So, there is zero deterrent, and the wheel turns. And in Europe too.

Jonno
Jonno
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Sharp instrument and drop off on French beaches.

Meirion X
Meirion X
15 days ago
Reply to  Frank

Sonic blasts, to create intense heat. U.S cops do it!

Last edited 15 days ago by Meirion X
JK
JK
15 days ago
Reply to  harryb

Detecting the boat crossings isn’t the problem. The problem is we don’t turn them around. We invite them in and never send them back.

Jonathan
Jonathan
15 days ago
Reply to  JK

Unfortunately until France agrees to take backs there is little that can be done.

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

And why would they.

Jonno
Jonno
15 days ago
Reply to  Harry Bulpit

Have we even tried? We are like rabbits in the headlights.
The present arrangement of paying the French millions is like paying Danegeld.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
14 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Which they won’t. They’re not stupid, they happily send a problem elsewhere. A major Brexit failure losing the Dublin accord.

Harry Bulpit
Harry Bulpit
15 days ago
Reply to  JK

Well it is bec many are still landing undetected where they simply run off and blend in with society.

Jonathan
Jonathan
15 days ago

This reminded me of the fact we have not heard much from the BAE Airlander blimp….a UK airship able to carry 100 people or equivalent sensors etc and stay in the air for 5 days….being able to land on ant flat surface including the sea…could be the future of maritime surveillance and AEW ? Able to stay up longer than any other manned platform of large drone…able lug around very heavy payloads… infact Airlander have an order of 10, Airlander 10 blimps for a European customer…they are planning an Airlander 20 and an even larger Airlander 50…which would create a… Read more »

ABCRodney
ABCRodney
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Well that is what the US originally wanted it for, they cancelled to fund something else.

Coll
Coll
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I didn’t realise Hybrid Air Vehicles teamed up with BAE systems. That’s great news.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
15 days ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Imagine Airlander on the Queen Elizabeth’s flight deck… It would be 1/3 the length. Still, probably worth it for the week’s endurance with full crew. Carry Crows nest radar and you have persistent AEW

Coll
Coll
15 days ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

From the presentations on YouTube, Airlander can be fitted with a crane to lower ISO containers. Although, this could be on a later model.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
15 days ago
Reply to  Coll

Yes, the plan is for a rail-like crane to hold containers on the Centreline of the Airlander 10 model, which has a smaller cargo area. The Airlander 50 is considerably longer (over 100m) and has more stores, but it is the 10 that, to me, would be the most useful as an unmanned AEW platform to follow the carrier. Even 3 or 4 in total would provide an unusual capability given the nearly ship-level endurance in unmanned mode.

SailorBoy
SailorBoy
15 days ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

It would have the RCS of a barn door but stealth is hardly the intention of a CSG.

Coll
Coll
15 days ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Either way, with endurance that can stretch into days and further when uncrewed, it has a long list of applications. It’s more about stopping it from being popped and MOD being short-sighted.

Last edited 15 days ago by Coll
SailorBoy
SailorBoy
15 days ago
Reply to  Coll

You might be able to fit a Dragonfire style thing on it for missile defence, as it would be very vulnerable otherwise. With enough power generation for AEW, a piddling DEW should be fine. I agree, it wouldn’t take a very large fleet of these to quickly become one of our most useful assets. Imagine a giant dipping sonar for ASW! It would be able to follow a sub for ages and keep up with it. How about transport? If we bought a few A50s, we could take the most bulky equipment stupendous distances with far less fuel than a… Read more »

Jon
Jon
12 days ago
Reply to  SailorBoy

Not necessarily. The majority of the structure is fabric, so although large, it will be relatively radar stealthy.

Nath
Nath
15 days ago

Lockheed have a concept of a space access system using a large array of balloons to float heavy equipment into the atmosphere that would then be further accelerated upwards using ion propulsors to finally get into space.
At 150,000 ft air density is so low aerodynamics isn’t much of a problem. Presumably existing orbiters or on-board thrusters would move the loads into position.

Spyinthesky
Spyinthesky
15 days ago
Reply to  Nath

That’s interesting, need to find out more about that.

lonpfrb
lonpfrb
15 days ago
Reply to  Spyinthesky

Could be just the thing to, err, Spy in the Sky..😀

ChrisJ
ChrisJ
15 days ago

Poland seem to have been on one hell of a military spending spree lately, how are they funding it all? Maybe there’s some lessons for HMG and MoD there?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
14 days ago
Reply to  ChrisJ

Do they have an equivalent NHS to fund and corresponding benefits bill for a 60 million plus population?
I doubt it.

ChrisJ
ChrisJ
14 days ago

That’s a fair point. I had a look, Poland has a publicly funded insurance type healthcare system like a lot of other European countries. Residents pay national insurance which covers the cost of this provision. Not sure about the benefits but can’t imagine its more generous than our bloated system.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
14 days ago
Reply to  ChrisJ

Exactly. Fair play to them, what ever their financial situation. They have an enemy on their doorstep, have been invaded and treated awfully by both Germany and Russia, and don’t intend it to happen again.
All power to them, I’ve a lot of time for the Poles.