The US Army will use two Lighter Than Air Systems (LTAS)-built aerostat platforms during the Network Integration Evaluation (NIE) 14.1 exercise, which is scheduled to take place at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, US, during October and November 2013.

Delivered to the Army Space and Missile Defense Command (SMDC) earlier this year by LTAS, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the World Surveillance Group, the turnkey trailer-mounted aerostat launcher systems provide persistent, on-demand and beyond-line-of-sight communications (BLOS) in support of ground force missions.

WSGI president and CEO, Glenn Estrella, said the aerostat systems will assist the army in providing a critical capability to soldiers who require constant communication.

”The integration of our systems into the army’s communications network further supports our vision that our aerostat systems can quickly provide critical communications for military missions, disaster recovery efforts and local and state operations," Estrella said.

"Our aerostat systems can quickly provide critical communications for military missions."

Known as the winch aerostat small platform (WASP) by the SMDC Battle Lab, the self-contained tactical aerostat system offers a secure communications package to enhance communications coverage, reduce the retransmissions forward positioning requirement, and also facilitate operational dispersion.

The system primarily provides improvements in complex terrain where current systems are restricted, according to the company.

NIE 14.1, the sixth version in the semi-annual field exercise series, is expected to concentrate on balancing the live, virtual and constructive mix of communications to achieve a higher-quality evaluation of current and prototype products in a cost-constrained environment.

The NIE series aims to further integrate and advance the army’s tactical network, simultaneously accelerating and enhancing the way networked and non-networked technologies are provided to soldiers.

The exercise serves as a principal driver of change in the army, during in-field evaluation and integration events drive requirements, field recommendations and acquisitions.

Defence Technology