Persistent Systems has won a $2.1m contract to supply Airborne Extensible Relay Over-Horizon Network (AERONet) to the US Air Force (USAF) civilian auxiliary Civil Air Patrol.

The contract will see Persistent provide nine aircraft, 21 dismounted ground units, six vehicles and three tactical operations centres with AERONet.

AERONet is an IP-based mobile ad hoc networking (MANET) capability. It is used to provide disaster relief and emergency aid, drug interdiction and other law enforcement missions, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), personnel recovery operations, close air support (CAS) and joint force and joint nation operations.

Persistent Systems said that the latest contract follows multiple earlier ones that included AERONet equipment for five aircraft, three dismounted units, one vehicle as well as one tactical operations centre.

Air Force and Intelligence Community Programs Business Development vice-president Adrien Robenhymer said: “With AERONet, Civil Air Patrol will be able to conduct disaster relief and emergency aid missions far more effectively.

“Teams that otherwise would have had to operate in isolation can now connect back to a tactical operations centre and be guided by medical professionals.”

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Robenhymer added that separate ‘AERONet enclaves can also be federated at a regional hub’. With the help of this hub, different organisations can coordinate their activities in a better way and avoid working at cross-purposes as well.

The AERONet kit provided for a Civil Air Patrol aircraft comprises two MPU5 tactical networking devices.

Each of these devices operate on separate radio frequency (RF) bands and using a different set of ‘multiple-input and multiple-output antennas’.

Persistent Systems project engineer Gabe Pagliere said: “When the tactical operations centre and deployed ground teams are not in range of each other, they can relay their communication through the AERONet equipment on the airplane.

“This enables their communication to extend across long distances, over terrain and around obstructions.”