October 15, 2015:
The U.S. Navy has developed a novel method of providing smaller ships with longer range for visual sensors (vidcams with zoom) and radar. Many small ships have radars or lookouts that are only about ten meters (32 feet) above the water. That means the radar or a sailor with binoculars can only see out to the horizon (about 20 kilometers when ten meters above sea level). The new navy device uses a parafoil (a parachute that can be controlled in such a way that the user can gain altitude and stay there) designed to be easily stored and deployed (with up to 68 kg/150 pounds of gear) to a height of up to 457 meters. That would allow the sensors to see out to 76 kilometers. The cable that holds the parafoil also supplies power to the sensors and commands to the parafoil controls. The navy has gotten a prototype to work and is now modifying the basic design so it is easy use and rugged enough for regular deployment and months at sea.