Tethered balloon to protect German base in Niger

Germany has placed a €21 million order with Rheinmetall for an aerostat-based area reconnaissance system for protecting its forward operating base in Niger.

The Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) is a low-level airborne ground surveillance system that uses aerostats (balloons) as radar platforms.

Rheinmetall Canada, a subsidiary of Rheinmetall Group will be in charge of integrating the surveillance balloon’s sensors into the existing military C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) architecture.

According to Rheinmetall, the Aerostats are capable of remaining aloft above the installation to be protected for extensive periods, the balloons’ highly sensitive sensors enable them to spot hostile elements even at great distances.

“These tethered surveillance balloons will give the Bundeswehr a new means of protecting its forces deployed in Niger,” according to the Rheinmetall.

‘Experience shows that systems of this type – if only because the possibility of being detected is plain to see – reduce by fifty percent the likelihood of an attack by hostile forces,’ said Rheinmetall.

When deployed, the system will be able to detect approaching hostile targets, and enabling the Bundeswehr to carry out counter-action in the appropriate timeframe.

As part of the solution, Bundeswehr personnel will operate the system using a special workstation twenty-four hours a week, and Rheinmetall will also train these troops to perform their future tasks before deployment.

For some time, Germany has been providing military support to Niger to combat cross-border militancy and trafficking through the Agadez region of the Sahel. In February, Germany provided 15 IAG Guardian Xtreme armored vehicles to Niger to enhance their combat capacity.

Also, earlier this year, Germany upgraded United Nations’ Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) logistics hub, and deployed a A400 strategic airlifter

Likewise in 2017, Berlin donated 100 flat-bed military trucks, 115 motorcycles and 55 satellite phones to Niger for use by its special army and police counter-terrorism units to combat cross-border militancy and trafficking through the Agadez region of the Sahel.

Also in November 2018, Germany gifted 53 logistics vehicles to Niger’s military. Germany is building an officer training school in Niger and expanding the military section of the capital’s airport.

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