February 5, 2011 By Joseph P. Farrell

Here's a bit of interesting news from the Department of Defense website. On Feb 3, 2011 (that's last Thursday folks), DoD informs us that "Raytheon Co., Andover, Mass., was awarded on Feb. 1 a $59,994,017 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. The award will provide for the support and sustainment, in all aspects, for the Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment Legacy and Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment Base Expeditionary Targeting and Surveillance Systems. Work will be performed in Andover, Mass.; Huntsville, Ala.; Iraq; and Afghanistan, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. The U.S. Army Space & Missile Defense Command, Contracting Acquisition Management Office, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W9113M-08-C-0153)."

So off I went to google what "Rapid Aerostat Initial Deployment Legacy" was, and I found this link:

Army Deploys 300th RAID Tower, Supporting Forward Base Protection by Persistent Surveillance and Dissemination System PSDS2

"Ok, well cool," I thought, "surveillance towers to protect the troops." But then the whole sweep of the article struck me: the capabilities of the surveillance system being discussed is truly amazing: radar and other sensory equipment to detect mortar fire and gunfire...plus a cute picture of a white blimp. Then I remembered exactly who had done the contracting, according to DoD itself: 'The US Army Space and Missile Defense Command."  This, plus the fact that a blimp is pictured in the article linked above, suggests that some sort of tactical surveillance system is being put into place not to monitor pesky Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, but someone else, "elsewhere." It sort of makes you go "Hmmmm..."

Then there's this juicy tidbit from Feb 2, 2011: "General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Poway, Calif., was awarded a $148,255,502 contract which will procure 24 MQ-9 Reaper production aircraft.  At this time, the entire amount has been obligated.  ASC/WIIK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity (FA8620-10-G-3038 0028)."

OK...for those who are interested, the MQ-9 Reaper is one of those unmanned "reconnaissance" aircraft....oh yea, and this one can fire laser-guided smart-bombs:


So putting it all together, I do wonder "Hmm.... just what exactly is going on in space?"  Combining all these platforms would be quite possible, and one can imagine all sorts of anti-satellite satellites, and even more strategic offensive space-based weapons. And even the concept of remote surveillance and guided weapons is not all that new. Just remember those television camera frames from the 1945 test of the German Tonne missile, and remember, this is just the stuff we know about. And one more thing made me go "Hmmm..." and that is, why does the US Army have a space command at all? Of course, with GPS and other technologies, certainly for operations here... but it does make one go "hmmm..." and perhaps they are getting ready for operations "elsewhere."