AUGUSTA, Ga. — The U.S. Army wants to develop a high-altitude intelligence, cyber and electronic warfare sensor that can fly above enemy territory to provide data and potentially jamming or disruption capability.

The system, dubbed High-Altitude Extended-Range Long Endurance Intelligence Observation System, or HELEIOS, is part of the Multidomain Sensing System family, a series of high-altitude systems that will help the Army cover the vast distances over which it expects to operate in future conflicts.

HELIOS will be an attritable sensor mounted to a solar glide vehicle or a balloon, designed to operate at 60,000 feet or above, Col. Daniel Holland, Army capability manager for electronic warfare, said during an Aug. 17 presentation at TechNet Augusta.

Concepts and technologies the Army is looking for include coherent, distributed, electromagnetic attack; multiple low-power transmitters; and effectors on different balloons or gliders that are coordinated in time in phase to deliver additive jam to signal on a single target, Holland said.

“The idea is blanketing the deep area with low-cost attritable sensors to enable deep sensing and deep effects,” he explained. “Essentially our question is can we get the payload light enough to fly on this penetrating, high-altitude, attributable platform, get close enough to place our effects on target, likely with a special purpose electronic attack or RF-enabled cyber.”

The Army wants to begin experimenting with the system during upcoming Project Convergence exercises and at a technology demonstrator in the Indo-Pacific in fiscal 2022.

To start, the service wants to mount the sensor on a balloon right over a target and move on from there, recognizing that as the platform moves and the sensor gets farther away, that will present size, weight and power issues.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.

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