Clemson-led group wins $10 million contract for next-generation surveillance 'blimps'

October 11, 2001

CLEMSON -- A Clemson University-led consortium will help develop next- generation radar-surveillance "blimps" for the U.S. military under a $10-million government contract.

The consortium includes Clemson, Pennsylvania State, Mississippi State, University of Alabama-Huntsville and Alabama A&M. The research is funded by the U.S. Army.

The Aerostat Design and Manufacturing (ADaM) project paves the way for the design and manufacture of affordable blimp-like surveillance platforms, called "aerostats," with improved performance and increased availability.

Aerostats will be paired with advanced radar to strengthen the military's early-detection, tracking and engagement capability.

These airborne radar installations are particularly effective against cruise missiles because their "look-down" perspective will provide detailed analysis of airspace. Cruise missiles are difficult to track because they hug the ground in flight, hovering only hundreds of feet above the surface.

Worldwide, nearly 100 entities, ranging from governments to terrorist organizations, are known to have cruise missile technology.

"Clemson University and its team of universities is uniquely qualified to perform this work," said Col. Mary Fuller, the project manager. "We needed an organizationwith the expertise in multiple areas of primary concern to this project, familiar with government contracting procedures and capable of assembling a team able to complete the required research - Clemson provided that."

The airborne platforms are more than 230 feet long, 75 feet tall and fly at altitudes of up to 15,000 feet. They are tethered to the ground with fiber-optic lines.

Smaller aerostats are already in use, both commercially and by the government. A "picket fence" of aerostats is already stationed off the southern border of the United States where authorities successfully use these radar systems to track and interdict illegal drug shipments.

"Clemson University is a leader in advanced materials and fabric manufacturing and has been recognized as such with award of this contract," said U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings. "The Army has a quality team in place to develop force protection from Cruise Missile attacks." S.C. congressmen, including Hollings, Sen. Strom Thurmond, Rep. John Spratt, Rep. Lindsey Graham and the recently deceased Rep. Floyd Spence, championed the Clemson-led consortium.

Clemson, led by Clemson Apparel Research (CAR), will find ways to make the aerostat's "skins" lighter, more durable and less affected by environmental factors, such as ultraviolet light, weather and acid rain. That means the aerostats will be able to stay aloft longer, perhaps for up to 60 days before requiring routine maintenance.

Clemson also will work with American textile companies to develop, test and manufacture the high-tech composite materials for the skin and fiber-optic tether.

"We are serving the needs and priorities of our nation," said Christine Jarvis, a professor in Clemson's School of Materials Science and Engineering and one of the founders of the Pendleton-based CAR facility.

The other research universities will focus on the following areas:

Pennsylvania State - Modeling and aerodynamic work.

Mississippi State - Improving the aerostat's ability to withstand high voltage events, such as lightening.

University of Alabama-Huntsville - Development of an on-board mechanism for monitoring complex meteorological changes that could affect the aerostat's optimal performance.

Alabama A&M - Historical database of aerostat-related performance and research materials.

This work is part of the Army's Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS) Project. The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, in support of the Project Executive Office for Air and Missile Defense and the JLENS Project Office, awarded the four-year contract. Money must be reauthorized each year. To date, Clemson's portion totals nearly $1.8 million.

Clemson University

Related Ultraviolet Light Articles from Brightsurf:

NRL researchers evaluate ultraviolet sources, combat COVID-19
NRL researchers evaluated commercial ultraviolet (UV) sources for viral disinfection to combat COVID-19 on land and at sea, and established a dedicated UV characterization lab in five days.

Ultraviolet shines light on origins of the solar system
In the search to discover the origins of our solar system, an international team of researchers, including planetary scientist and cosmochemist James Lyons of Arizona State University, has compared the composition of the sun to the composition of the most ancient materials that formed in our solar system: refractory inclusions in unmetamorphosed meteorites.

New extreme ultraviolet facility opens for use
Researchers have established a novel high-frequency laser facility at the University of Tokyo.

Astronomers find the first galaxy whose ultraviolet luminosity is comparable to that of a quasar
An international scientific team, led by researchers at the Centre for Astrobiology (CAB, CSIC-INTA) and with participation by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), have found the galaxy BOSS-EUVLG1.

Comet Chury's ultraviolet aurora
On Earth, auroras, also called northern lights, have always fascinated people.

SwRI instruments aboard Rosetta help detect unexpected ultraviolet aurora at a comet
Data from Southwest Research Institute-led instruments aboard ESA's Rosetta spacecraft have helped reveal auroral emissions in the far ultraviolet around a comet for the first time.

Ultraviolet B exposure expands proenkephalin+ regulatory T cells with a healing function
Skin exposure to ultraviolet B (UVB) induces expansion of regulatory T (Treg) cells with immunosuppressive activity.

Ultraviolet communication to transform Army networks
Of ever-increasing concern for operating a tactical communications network is the possibility that a sophisticated adversary may detect friendly transmissions.

NASA's Maven observes martian night sky pulsing in ultraviolet light
Vast areas of the Martian night sky pulse in ultraviolet light, according to images from NASA's MAVEN spacecraft.

A new look at Mars' eerie, ultraviolet nighttime glow
An astronaut standing on Mars couldn't see the planet's ultraviolet ''nightglow.'' But this phenomenon could help scientists to better predict the churn of Mars' surprisingly complex atmosphere.

Read More: Ultraviolet Light News and Ultraviolet Light Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to