Covering 60 degrees by 10, POPSTAR is mounted on a gimballed base that enables the system to cover up to 180 degrees in high elevations. Photo: IAI

An electro-optical passive surveillance system designed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) is the latest sensor innovation developed by Israel’s defense industries in their effort to contain the cross-border harassment by Palestinians militants in Gaza.

What began as innocent kites and balloons carrying messages, gradually turned to arson attacks using lighter than air incendiary devices, booby traps transferred over the border by balloons and, most recently, multirotor drones hacked into ‘flying IEDs’. All these threats utilize a known gap in situational awareness, that, until now, ignored small, slow and low targets that appeared to be what they should be – birds, balloons, kites or small drones operated by hobbyists, not improvised aerial weapons.

Named as innocent as the targets it is designed to detect, ‘POPSTAR’ uses passive EOIR sensors to automatically detect and track small, flying or moving targets in the air and on the ground, track those targets and designate the targets deemed suspicious and dangerous for engagement by countermeasures or weapons. Using multiple high-resolution cameras operating in the visual, low-light and IR, POPSTAR performs continuous surveillance of a wide area, in daylight and at night. The system successfully completed an operational evaluation and was demonstrated to customers in Israel and abroad.

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