The BSF looks at Israeli aerostat systems for its border surveillance operations
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Border Management

The BSF looks at Israeli aerostat systems for its border surveillance operations

Dilip Kumar Mekala

Skystar 180 The Border Security Force (BSF) recently completed two live demonstrations of Israeli Skystar 180 aerostat system for its border surveillance operations. One demonstration took place at an operational area in the western theatre and other was conducted at the BSF headquarters in New Delhi.

With this prospective induction in mind, the manufacturer RT LTA Systems Ltd displayed a model of Skystar 180 aerostat at Aero India. The company emphasises that the system is ideal for border protection as Skystar 180 is a mature product with more than one million operational hours worldwide. Rami Shmueli, RT’s CEO said, “We are pleased to present our renowned Skystar 180 aerostat system at Aero India. RT’s Skystar aerostats are ideal for border protection and control, as they provide persistent surveillance for long periods at minimal cost. No other defence system, manned or unmanned, is as cost effective as aerostats. Using an aerostat resembles building a portable tower of 1,500 ft. in only 20 minutes. The first operational hour of the aerostat bears some expenses but from that moment on, the system is able to stay stable for days, and provide persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance at a minimal cost”. Skystar 180 is small sized, mobile aerostat designed for tactical mid-range surveillance system and is currently in service with the Israeli defence forces for border control.

Live demonstrations of Skystar 180 are a part of ministry of home affairs’ (MHA) long standing effort to seal the International Border (IB) with Pakistan as well as Bangladesh. MHA estimates that the IB will be completely sealed before December 2018.

The BSF admits that there are enormous challenges in ensuring the completion of the border fence. The physical barrier throughout IB is not a feasible option as it cuts through varied terrain such as riverine, low-lying, creek and marshy. According to the BSF’s estimates, construction of physical barrier is impossible about 181.85 kilometres stretch along the border. To overcome this, the BSF is planning to use advanced technological solutions including cameras, sensors, radars and lasers. “The BSF is testing the available technologies through pilot projects in Jammu, Punjab and Gujarat”, said home minister Rajnath Singh.

The BSF is planning to achieve this mammoth task of sealing the border through its project called Comprehensive Integrated Border Management Solutions (CIBMS) using modern C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems. CIBMS will be deployed at two different locations in Jammu sector along IB. In a recent Request for Proposal (RFP) the BSF has claimed that this study project is to evaluate the availability of various integrated solutions for guarding the border. “With new concepts of C4ISR, it is necessary to develop a broad architecture of integrated border management systems in which human resources, weapons and surveillance equipment are seamlessly integrated complementing each other”, the tender mentioned. The CIBMS mechanism, once inducted, will carry out wide range of security and surveillance operations including detection, classification and identification of threat, vulnerability mapping of the border areas, and help the commanders in faster decision making process.

K.K. Sharma, director general, BSF, in a review meeting assured the home ministry officials that the pilot project for CIBMS will be implemented expeditiously.

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