DARPA Making Blimp that has Extremely Large Antennas for Sensors as Part of Its Structure

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DARPA Integrated Sensor is Structure (ISIS) project is trying to make a blimp which has massive sensors as part of the blimp structure A demonstration unit should be flying around 2012-2014. ISIS will provide “unsurpassed situational awareness with a surveillance range of 187 miles for individuals on the ground and 373 miles for advanced cruise missiles”.

The goal of the ISIS program is to develop a stratospheric airship based autonomous unmanned sensor with years of persistence in surveillance and tracking of air and ground targets. It will have the capability to track the most advanced cruise missiles at 600 km and dismounted enemy combatants at 300 km. The ISIS program will develop the technologies that enable extremely large lightweight phased-array radar antennas to be integrated into an airship platform. ISIS uses a large aperture instead of high power to meet radar performance requirements. This approach exploits the platform’s size and conforms to the platform’s limitations on weight and power. Major technical challenges are the development of ultra-lightweight antennas, antenna calibration technologies, power systems, station keeping approaches, and airships that support extremely large antennas.

MITRE has coverage of the ISIS blimps which will fly (12 mile) 70,000 feet above Earth for up to 10 years.

* Global Relocation < 10 days * 600km Sensor Radius * No In-Theater Ground Support * 10+ year Operational Lifetime – 99% Availability for 1 year * Extremely High Capacity Communication In old blimps payload is 2-3 % of the system mass, while ISIS allows over 30% of the system mass to be payload.
ISIS is designed for the theoretical limit at the radar horizon
– Single-platform search, track, and fire-control ISIS is designed for dismounts across the entire Line-of-Sight

– LSRS-like resolution

– 300km @ 3º grazing angle

– 600km line-of-sight


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