Raven Industries subsidiary Aerostar Technical Solutions (Raven Aerostar) has received a contract to demonstrate the utility of stratospheric balloons for different US Department of Defense (DoD) operational requirements.

The contract was awarded by the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a DoD unit that focuses on organising commercial technology for the US military.

As agreed, Raven Aerostar will conduct several service-driven prototyping and field utility demonstrations to display the capabilities of the stratospheric balloons.

It will start by integrating the prototype communication nodes onto Raven Aerostar’s Thunderhead Balloon Systems.

The Thunderhead Balloon Systems are able to carry sensors, payloads and other technologies, allowing for data collection during the stratospheric flight. This capability will help the DoD to analyse data and improve situational awareness that will benefit the warfighter on the battlefield.

Raven Aerostar division manager Jim Nelson said: “Our Thunderhead Balloons can be tailored to solve critical national security challenges.

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“As the technology continues to prove its value, this contract will serve as a vehicle for Raven Aerostar to support future prototype activities across the Department of Defense and the government more broadly.”

The demonstrations are expected to allow the DIU to assess the feasibility of using Raven Aerostar’s stratospheric technology for live military field operations.

Raven Aerostar focus on manufacturing aerospace and defence solutions.

Raven Industries has two additional subsidiaries, namely Aerostar International and Aerostar Technical Solutions.

Raven Aerostar’s Thunderhead Balloon Systems can be configured for research and other commercial applications.

Last year, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) conducted a series of launch trials with high-altitude balloons in New South Wales.