The Tethered Aerostat Radar System (TARS) program operates and maintains a series of airborne radar platforms and associated infrastructure and communications. The radar equipment is housed in tethered aerostats, which look similar to a blimp but are raised and lowered by cable to adjust to weather conditions and for maintenance.
TARS provides persistent, long-range detection and monitoring (radar surveillance) capability for interdicting low-level air, maritime and surface smugglers and narcotics traffickers along the United States-Mexico border, the Florida Straits, and a portion of the Caribbean. The TARS program provides surveillance data to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Air and Marine (OAM) Operations Center (AMOC). As a secondary mission, TARS supports the USNORTHCOM and USSOUTHCOM air surveillance missions. In addition, TARS surveillance data also supports the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) air sovereignty mission for the continental United States. The TARS capability is optimized to detect low, slow flying aircraft within its area of coverage.
Operational locations are in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, the Florida Keys, and Puerto Rico with support locations in Newport News, Va., and El Paso, Texas.
Tim Green, TARS Program Manager