Kestrel (surveillance system)
In late 2010, the ISR Task Force and Army requested a version of Constant Hawk for aerostats. Contracted through the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, the Kestrel program delivered four units the following year. However, these first four Kestrels lacked an infrared capability, and by June 2012, were replaced by 10 day/night systems and six spares.
Kestrel employs six cameras housed in a gimbal, providing a 360-degree panoramic view of “a city-sized” area”  in medium resolution. The system allows operators to track multiple suspects at once and can automatically monitor user-designated zones. Kestrel transmits imagery to the user in real time and can also record up to 30 days of events.
The Kestrel system also has applications for border security. In March 2012, the Science and Technology Directorate of the Department of Homeland Security conducted a seven-day demonstration of Kestrel in Nogales, Ariz. Kestrel was mounted on an aerostat and worked in coordination with a high-resolution full motion video camera. The purpose of the test was to see how well Kestrel could detect and track illegal entrants, drug smugglers and gunrunners crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.
Kestrel has led to the development of other wide-area sensors, such as Simera. Also an aerostat-mounted system, Simera is composed of 13 electro-optical cameras and weighs only 40lbs.
Unlike Kestrel, however, Simera is exportable to non-U.S. countries. Four units are expected to be used by Brazil’s Ministry of Justice at the 2016 Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro.
• Lightweight Expeditionary Airborne Persistent Surveillance (LEAPS)
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