Army Awards $184M For More Surveillance Blimps

29 more surveillance blimps—known as “persistent threat detection systems—will be deployed to Afghanistan.
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The U.S. Army has awarded Lockheed Martin a $184.3 million contract for the company to deliver 29 more surveillance blimps—known as “persistent threat detection systems (PTDS)—to support coalition forces in Afghanistan.

The latest contract would nearly double the number of PTDS blimps deployed “in theater.” In 2010, Lockheed Martin delivered 28 PTDS for use in theater, bringing the total number of systems provided to the Army to 37; once the latest order is delivered, that number would increase to 66 PTDS blimps delivered.

The Army has been using PTDS blimps since 2004; the systems provide around-the-clock coverage of broad geographic areas for weeks at a time with multi-mission sensors, Lockheed Martin says. The PTDS is a highly effective, combat-proven, aerostat-based intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and communications system in support of force-protection and counter-improvised explosive devices (IED) missions, the company says.

“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,” said Colleen Arthur, director of Lockheed Martin’s integrated defense technologies business. “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.”