The US Army has awarded a $133m contract to Lockheed Martin to provide eight additional persistent threat detection systems (PTDS) to support operational forces.

The PTDS is a tethered aerostat-based persistent surveillance and sensor integration architecture designed to provide long-endurance intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications in support of coalition forces.

PTDS features a wide-area, secure communications backbone to integrate threat reporting from available sensor assets like the Fire Finder radar weapons surveillance system.

Lockheed Martin defence technologies business vice president Stephanie Hill said the PTDS helps the troops in the field with real-time surveillance and valuable intelligence information.

Aerostats, filled with helium, can stay continuously aloft to provide low-cost, long-endurance communications and surveillance capabilities to conduct multiple missions.

Currently nine systems are deployed by the US Army while the additional eight will be provided to the troops over the next 11 months.