Lockheed Martin’s aerostats providing airborne surveillance for U.S. border protection

Persistent Threat Working with the Army, Lockheed Martin is providing operational support for a Persistent Threat Detection System (PTDS) aerostat system that is being evaluated by DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) along the Southern border of the U.S.

Currently protecting coalition forces overseas, the U.S. Army uses PTDS to help troops identify threats, track insurgents, and enhance overall readiness for the men and women in theater. With the troop drawdown, more of the systems are becoming available for other uses.

“Lockheed Martin has a long history developing aerostats, and this effort highlights the system’s potential and flexibility,” said Paula Hartley, vice president of Advanced Products Solutions for Lockheed Martin’s Mission Systems and Training business. “As the mission evolves, PTDS is able to adapt its technology for new uses to support our customers and nation.”

With the capability to provide panoramic day/night surveillance in extremely challenging weather, PTDS has been very successful in supporting CBP border protection efforts. Capable of remaining continuously aloft at high altitudes, PTDS differs from other persistent ground surveillance aerostats previously used by CBP in that it can fly at greater altitudes for longer periods of time, thereby providing 24/7 coverage to a larger area.

The system can also be equipped with multiple sensors, which can be easily and quickly interchanged in order to support different types of CBP missions. PTDS offers a persistent surveillance capability not possible with manned and unmanned aircraft, which encounter surveillance-time limitations dictated by fuel consumption and payload capacity.

“PTDS is a robust system that has proven its worth protecting our forces around the world,” said Dr. Rob Smith, vice president of C4ISR for Lockheed Martin Information Systems and Global Solutions. “Using PTDS to support the CBP mission is an excellent way to leverage and maximize existing capital assets and experienced operators for border protection efforts.”

The Army’s Program Executive Office for Intelligence, Electronic Warfare and Sensors, Product Director Aerostats, based at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, manages the PTDS program.