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Bosh Aerospace Division (BASD) of Information Systems Laboratories (ISL), San Diego, CA, announced that it is supplying several variants of a DARPA-sponsored surveillance rapid air inflated tower (RAFT) to US Army forces in Iraq for evaluation. A company spokesman stated, “RAFT will provide ‘high ground in a box’ to the soldiers in the field. During initial deployment, the Army will assess RAFT’s ability to quickly lift surveillance and communication equipment to various altitudes to extend our soldiers line-of-sight, thereby reducing their vulnerability to surprise attacks. If RAFT proves effective during this initial testing, it will be deployed to US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.” The DARPA-sponsored contract for delivery of the RAFT systems to Iraq as quickly as possible was accomplished through the Army Materiel Command — Smart Weapons Management Office, Redstone Arsenal. ISL was able to manufacture and demonstrate a 32-foot tower within days and deliver 64-foot and 100-foot towers in less than three weeks after contract award. The tower’s base doubles as its shipping container to reduce system weight and logistics demands, and inflation was conducted in less than four minutes with simple cold air blowers. RAFT will be used for local surveillance in direct support of troops, for continuous surveillance of critical infrastructure and as communication towers. ISL has equipped the current production types with infrared and visible light cameras for day and night surveillance. The camera systems are steered with a “joy stick” and imagery is displayed on a liquid crystal display (LCD) contained in a briefcase-sized container.
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