$32.9M for Blimp-Based JLENS Defense Sensors
FLIR Systems Inc. in Wilsonville, OR received a delivery order amount of $32.9 million as part of a $32.9 million firm-fixed-price contract for FLIR Star SAFIRE sensors for the Joint Land Attack Cruise Missile Defense Elevated Netted Sensor System (JLENS).
JLENS is an early warning and surveillance system installed in an aerostat and positioned at an altitude of up to 15,000 feet for extended periods, to offer wide-area surveillance and over-the-horizon detection and tracking of aircraft, helicopters, UAVs and especially the elusive cruise missiles. Such targets may go undetected by surface-based sensors because of terrain masking and line-of-sight locations of targets. Other sensors on board will also detect and track moving targets on the ground.
The system will effectively cover and track targets over 360-degrees, providing an integrated air picture via multiple sensors and command, control, communications and intelligence (C3I) networks. The sensor suite includes a surveillance radar (SR) and a precision track and illumination radar (PTIR). The SR provides a long-range air picture enhanced by identification friend or foe. The PTIR is a steerable, lightweight array capable of tracking multiple targets in a sector. The JLENS prioritizes remote and local tracks autonomously or accepts external requests for precision tracking and engagement support.
The aerostat is a commercial-off-the-shelf kind similar to what the Drug Enforcement Agency uses on the U.S. southern border. Aerostats differ from blimps in that blimps are powered, while aerostats are tethered or anchored to the ground. The tether also supplies electrical power to the aerostat.
An elevated sensor such as JLENS can support ground based air defense units, such as Patriot, Aegis/Standard Missile and SLAMRAAM (ground-based AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles). In the All Service Combat Identification and Evaluation Team (ASCIET) ’99 exercise. A 15m aerostat was deployed with a Cooperative Engagement Capability relay on a mobile mooring station. This relay allowed the Army’s Patriot air defense system and the Navy’s AEGIS weapon system to exchange radar data.
The large area coverage and multiple target tracking capability even enable JLENS to support air-to-air missile engagements as it relays updated intercept solutions to airborne missiles or launchers, operating in engage-on-remote and forward pass modes.
JLENS was designated an Acquisition Category II program in March 1999. Long term acquisition requirements call for 12 complete systems at an estimated value of $1.6 billion.
The JLENS program deployed a 15 meter aerostat to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. In late November 2003, the Army announced its intention to redeploy the Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) force protection aerostat from Afghanistan to Iraq.
Work on this contract be performed in Wilsonville, OR and is expected to be complete by March 31, 2006. This was a sole source contract initiated on June 6, 2005, and issued by the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command in Huntsville, AL (W9113M-05-D-0002).