The TARS program operates and maintains a series of airborne radar platforms, with the associated infrastructure and communications, to monitor the southern border of the United States in support of the AMIC/ACC counterdrug and air defense missions. 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 cost-effective, low-level radar surveillance for the US-Mexico border, the Florida Straits, and a portion of the Caribbean in support of USNORTHCOM’s and USSOUTHCOM’s Counterdrug/Counter-Narco Terrorism (CD/CNT) missions. In addition to the CD/CNT mission, TARS surveillance data also supports North American Aerospace Defense Command’s (NORAD) air sovereignty mission for the continental United States. The TARS program is optimized primarily to detect low, slow flying aircraft.
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.