TAMPA, Fla., May 23 (UPI) -- A tethered unmanned aerial system by AeroVironment for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance use is being evaluated by the U.S. military.
The evaluation of Tether Eye is being conducted by the United States Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, which funded the system's development program.
Tether Eye is a day/night surveillance platform that deploys automatically from a small, weather-sealed, self-contained base station and ascends to a pre-determined hover altitude -- as much as 150 feet -- from where viewers of its video feed take advantage of its 360-degree field of view. Its specially designed tether provides continuous power for uninterrupted long-term operation.
"Having the ability to deploy a 'virtual observation tower' at a moment's notice above buildings and vehicles represents a game-changing capability for ISR and security operations that has the potential to save lives," said Amanda Toman, program manager at the CTTSO. "We look forward to continuing our evaluation of Tether Eye's capabilities with AeroVironment as a possible deployable capability across government facilities."
The system at present carries payloads consisting of electro-optical and infrared cameras and an encrypted digital data link.
"Tether Eye effectively complements our family of small unmanned aircraft systems by providing a valuable new capability -- continuous ISR and security for buildings or stationary vehicles in defense, security and commercial applications," said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. "We intend to continue developing Tether Eye through to production and include it as a standard component of our product portfolio."
AeroVironment made its announcement at the Special Operations Forces Industry Conference in Florida.