PTDS: Afghanistan’s Eyes in the Sky

Recent award to provide aerostat-based surveillance systems with increased intelligence capabilities


file Lockheed Martin recently received an award from the U.S. Army to install additional electro-optical/infrared cameras, radars and wide-area motion imagery systems to existing PTDS. Courtesy DVIDS.

Lockheed Martin’s Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) serves as eyes in the sky for Coalition forces in Afghanistan. And according to several recently published reports, the aerostat-based surveillance system is seeing quite a lot.

Acting on PTDS information, soldiers at Forward Operation Base (FOB) Andar worked with the Afghan police to thwart a group of insurgents attempting to plant an improvised explosive device (IED) in early January. Using the PTDS’ camera system, American forces also recently observed an Afghan Uniformed Police officer extorting money from civilians at an illegal checkpoint on the route between Ghazni and Sharana. The soldiers detained the man and turned him over to the National Directorate of Security.

More recently, PTDS aided in the confiscation of IED materials in Ghormach District, according to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Afghan police and ISAF soldiers used the PTDS to monitor the suspects’ activity and determine their home base. The police and soldiers moved to the insurgents’ location, finding the IED materials and detaining several individuals.

“I wish every unit had one,” said U.S. Army Capt. Scott Elwell, in a February 4 ISAF news release on the Ghormach District raid. “Today is an excellent example of how the aerostat can be useful. We were able to watch them, follow them home and use all of our intel to make the command decision to go and get them. It worked extremely well.”

As effective as the PTDS is, it soon will be even more helpful to Coalition troops. The Army recently awarded Lockheed Martin $85.3 million to install additional sensors to existing PTDS. The award also includes five new upgraded ground control systems capable of handling the additional sensors.

PTDS provides around the clock surveillance of broad areas for weeks at a time. Filled with helium and attached to a re-locatable mooring system by a high-strength tether, PTDS carries different types of surveillance and communications equipment to conduct multiple missions.

Learn more about PTDS’ effectiveness in Afghanistan: