Lightweight Aerostat System – Deployable Communications Network (LAS-DCN)

Period of Performance: 04/11/2007 - 10/19/2007


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Carolina Unmanned Vehicles, Inc.
4105 Graham-Newton Road
Raleigh, NC 27606
Principal Investigator


Develop the Lightweight Aerostat System Deployable Communications Network (LAS-DCN) to provide an inexpensive, long endurance relay capability for small ships such as the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) or USVs. It can also be airlifted by aircraft or helicopter to remote sites if required. LAS-DCN consists of a communications relay payload suspended from a new type of small specially designed tethered blimp, called a Helikite, and a Carrier that stores all required ground handling equipment. The LAS-DCN blimp can be flown at several thousand feet altitude for low cost, long term test communications relay coverage of large areas. LAS-DCN can provide relay coverage for 24 hours a day for a week or more without maintenance or downtime. LAS-DCN consists of several unique components that, taken together, comprise a system far smaller and more versatile than any comparable unit. The blimp, a version of the patented Helikite, can operate in much higher winds than traditional blimp designs, improving system utility and capability in adverse weather. LAS-DCN requires only a two person crew and is far less expensive than any competitive approach. It is cost-effective through use of unique designs to reduce the need for ground crews to handle the blimp during launch and recovery. The relay electronics equipment can be packaged in modules mounted under the Helikite keel, greatly reducing the cost compared to custom designed avionics for aircraft or Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV).