The U.S. Army has bought sixteen more
16 Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment (RAID) Tower Systems for providing base
surveillance in Iraq and Afghanistan. Each system, which includes a 30 foot
tower, sensors, communications and operations centers, costs about $632,000.
Systems like this are a major reason why U.S. bases have suffered such low
The RAID systems can cost up to five million
dollars each if they use an aerostat (blimp), but the tower based systems are
adequate for most situations. Thee army has bought over sixty RAID systems
(aerostats as well as towers) so far. The RAID aerostats operate an altitude of
a thousand feet, which means its cameras can see out to about sixty kilometers.
The smaller towers shorten that range quite a bit. The 30 foot tower can see
out to eleven kilometers, the 60 foot tower out to 16 kilometers and 84 foot
tower out to 20 kilometers. The 30 foot tower is adequate for most situations,
which usually involve guarding a base. The cameras have night vision, and some
use software that can identify much of that is out there. This makes it less
critical that a human spot something on the video feed.