Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has been selected to demonstrate an unmanned platform for stratospheric communications and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) as part of the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD)’s Project Aether Assessment Phase contract.
SNC’s rapidly deployable High-Altitude Balloon (HAB) provides global, persistent and uninterrupted ISR with communication capabilities at higher altitudes in near real-time.
Project Aether will address the MoD’s need for rapidly maneuverable, ultra-persistent wide area communications and ISR for long-duration missions with minimal resupply or maintenance efforts.
The system must be capable of targeting geolocations anywhere in the world and offer immediately available and exploitable data using a range of existing resources.
“SNC’s mature HAB out performs other platforms with its ability to integrate larger payloads and recover those payloads much more quickly,” said Josh Walsh, vice president of programs for SNC’s MST business area. “Balloons offer higher operational altitudes than aircraft and can provide longer observing times at much lower size, weight, power and cost than traditional ISR platforms.”
Partnered with SNC subsidiary, Sierra Nevada Corporation Mission Systems UK (SNC MS UK), World View Enterprises, Inc. and Digital Receiver Technology, Inc., the SNC-led team leverages a commercially mature platform and tools proven at the highest technology readiness level (TRL-9). SNC will perform the platform and payload integration work from its Fayetteville, North Carolina facility.
“SNC has a long history of rapid development, integration and worldwide deployment of C5ISR systems across all domain environments,” said Tim Owings, executive vice president of SNC’s Mission Solutions & Technologies (MST) business area. “We are very pleased to demonstrate SNC’s legacy of success with these types of autonomous systems to the MoD and continue expanding our footprint within the UK.”
The SNC and SNC MS UK Flight 1 demonstration is expected to take place later this year.