Saudi Arabia plans PTDS surveillance aerostat acquisition


Saudi Arabia is planning to acquire 10 Lockheed Martin 74K Persistent Threat Detection Systems (PTDS) aerostats with various payloads, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) revealed on 23 January when it announced that the proposed sale had been approved by the Department of State.

The proposed deal is estimated to be worth USD525 million and includes 26 L3 Wescam MX-20 high-altitude/long-range electro-optical/infrared camera systems, 14 unidentified ground surveillance radars, 10 unidentified communications intelligence (COMINT) sensors, as well as all the necessary support equipment and services.

The DSCA said the prime contractor for the proposed deal has not been identified as yet.

The PTDS is a tethered aerostat that has been in service with the US military since 2003, and has been extensively used in Afghanistan and Iraq to provide persistent surveillance across a wide radius around the bases where they are moored. Its tether includes embedded power supply and fibre-optic cables to link it to its ground control station.

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Saudi Arabia has requested the sale of 10 PTDS aerostats like the one seen here being deployed at the multinational base in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan on 7 December 2010. (US Army)Saudi Arabia has requested the sale of 10 PTDS aerostats like the one seen here being deployed at the multinational base in Tarin Kot, Afghanistan on 7 December 2010. (US Army)



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