PTDS image copyright Lockheed Martin
The US Army's fleet of surveillance platforms is set to expand after its order for 29 extra systems from aerospace/defence firm Lockheed Martin at the end of June 2011.
Already in possession of 37 Persistent Threat Detection Systems (PTDSs), it will now get 29 more, in support of allied forces tasked with suppressing the enemy in Afghanistan.
The contact has a value of over $183m and reinforces the US Department of Defense's policy of giving deployed US troops the best tools for the task in hand.
US Army PTDS Use
The era of US Army PTDS use began in 2004.
An aerostat design held to the ground by high-strength tethers, it boasts versatile sensors and its capabilities include communications, surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence. The mooring these tethers attach to is relocatable, while the aerostat itself stays aloft since the gas it contains, helium, is marginally lighter than air.
Used in combination with other ground-based forces, it offers increased defence against Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and other threats.
Persistent Threat Detection System
The Persistent Threat Detection System is now in its eighth year of US military service and in coming months, it will be joined in Afghanistan by the US Army's LEMV airship design.
Produced by Northrop Grumman, the LEMV - Long-Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle - is scheduled to carry out its first field tests by the end of 2011. Potentially, once in use, it will carry out surveillance missions lasting days at a time, at heights of about 20,000 feet.
"Over the past several years, the Department of Defense has placed an increased emphasis on delivering affordable intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to the warfighter", Lockheed Martin's Integrated Defense Technologies Director, Colleen Arthur, explained in a company press release issued at the end of June 2011.
"PTDS has been doing just that in Iraq and Afghanistan. By providing timely and actionable intelligence, PTDS helps protect our troops from IEDs and other types of threats."