JEFX and balloon repeater

Message posted by lone wolf on April 27, 2006 at 8:19:17 PST:

Experiment will help special forces, ports
WASHINGTON, April 26 (UPI) -- The Air Force is conducting a combat
experiment to test a host of new technologies and new ways to use them.

Among the projects featured in Joint Expeditionary Force Experiment 2006
is an effort to give Special Forces teams scattered in mountainous
regions like Afghanistan the ability to use radios, whose signals are
often blocked by the terrain.

The project is relatively simple in concept: launching a communications
relay post on a helium or hydrogen balloon to an altitude of above
90,000 feet. Soldiers on the ground would bounce their radio signals up
to the balloon, which would then have "line of sight" connectivity with
other nodes in the system.

The system costs just $6,000, according to Air Force officials, and is
lightweight enough to be carried in a pack.

The Navy is also participating in JEFX, now ongoing at Nellis AFB and
seven other sites. The Navy is experimenting with the Global Hawk
unmanned aerial vehicle, to see what capability it can provide in
tracking vessels at sea. The high-altitude Global Hawk can stay aloft
for 24 hours and its sensitive cameras and electronic sensors can yield
pictures of vessels clear enough to read their names and home ports. The
Homeland Security Department is also participating in the interest of
port security and container tracking.

The Navy is considering buying a high-altitude UAV but has not yet
committed to the Global Hawk UAV, which is still in its early stages of
development and has had some budget and scheduling problems.

The Army is also participating with surrogate Future Combat System
vehicles, to work on communications that can improve targeting and
prevent friendly fire.

JEFX '06, running from April 17 to 28, is the sixth such Air Force
experiment, which focuses on command, control, communications and
intelligence distribution on the battlefield.


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