The US Army has received the final persistent threat detection system (PTDS) under order from Lockheed Martin, which will be deployed to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions in Afghanistan.
The Meteorological and Target Identification Capabilities (PdM MaTIC) office product manager lieutenant colonel Michael Parodi said that the system had to be useful for soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coalition troops serving in Afghanistan.
"They have been instrumental in providing mission overwatch, detecting [improvised explosive devices] and assisting in the capture of numerous high value targets and weapons caches," he said.
"Our commanders in the field have incorporated PTDS into many of their missions including force protection; while local citizens recognise the platform provides an unblinking eye keeping watch for insurgent activity."
The PTDS is a combat-proven, aerostat-based ISR and communications system deployed to support the convoy-protection and counter-improvised explosive devices (C-IED) missions of the US military and allied forces.
Equipped with multiple sensors, the system scans large terrains for potential insurgent activity and transmits the collected data through the distributed common ground system-army (DCGS-A) to ground based commanders.
Filled with helium, the detection system features mission payloads, ground control shelter, maintenance and officer shelter, power generators, and is attached to a re-locatable mooring system by a high-strength tether to carry different types of surveillance equipment to the battlefield.
The system also received numerous upgrades, such as the addition of a second sensor to provide greater ISR coverage, improved weather effects survivability and forecasting, enhanced lift and payload capabilities, as well as improved network and equipment connectivity.
A total of 66 systems have been acquired by the army since 2004, under separate contracts for use in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
Image: The PTDS aerostats are used by the US Army to support ISR missions in Afghanistan. Photo: courtesy of US Army.