Raven Aerostar and Persistent Systems network constellation of stratospheric balloons in comms demo


Wave Relay® MANET-enabled stratospheric balloons could enable rapid response and expeditionary missions, GPS-denied operations, and downed pilot retrieval

NEW YORK, New York (January 28, 2021) – Persistent Systems, LLC (“Persistent”), a leader in mobile ad hoc networking solutions, together with lighter-than-air platform provider Raven Aerostar (a division of Raven Industries, Inc.; NASDAQ: RAVN), today announced that the companies have successfully conducted a demonstration of how a stratospheric constellation of communications and sensor nodes could be established using Persistent’s Wave Relay® mobile ad hoc network (MANET) and used over a battlefield.

The event, which took place in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, linked Persistent’s ground-based Auto-Tracking Antenna System to two Raven Aerostar Lightning Balloon Systems — extending Wave Relay® MANET coverage over 200 miles via a low-SWaP MPU5 tactical networking device riding on both balloons. These networked balloons allowed users to:

  • Track the position of other MPU5 devices on the ground;
  • Provide network connectivity for sensors; and
  • Create voice communications coverage throughout the flight path area.

“Utilizing multiple stratospheric balloon systems, users were able to get a long-range network capability in addition to high throughput,” said Scott Wickersham, Division Vice President of Raven Aerostar. “This is a scalable concept which can be extended with both the Raven Lightning and Thunderhead Balloon Systems to include a wide range of ground subscribers well beyond the traditional line-of-sight, point-to-point concept.”

Additionally, Raven Aerostar enhanced Thunderstorm, its command and control software, to seamlessly integrate with the MPU5 Application Programming Interface (API) in order to interact with the balloon systems and payloads. This enables a real-time ability to identify and track the balloons, sensors, and other users in the network using apps like TAK and Google Earth. The network also spanned beyond line-of-sight (BLOS) communications by leveraging Persistent’s Cloud Relay™ solution.

“You could see how this constellation of stratospheric balloons, airborne, and ground-based networking devices—plus tracking antenna—has applications for the recovery of downed pilots and operations in GPS-denied environments,” said Adrien Robenhymer, Vice President of Business Development for Air Force and Intelligence Community at Persistent. “The system can also provide wide-area communication coverage in austere environments, or add intelligence payloads for collaborative and distributed sensing, or do it all at once.”

The MPU5 is a flexible tactical networking solution with multiple RF bands and antenna configurations. Its lower size, weight, and power (SWaP) considerations reduce the need for amplifiers and extra batteries, extending the air endurance of the lighter-than-air platform.

“You can pull in multiple platforms for a private, robust coverage area with different airborne sensors all working in tandem. At the same time, you can also add dozens and dozens of operators on the ground into the same network without it being overworked,” said Robenhymer. “Which opens up a whole realm of new mission possibilities.”

About Persistent Systems, LLC

Headquartered in New York City since 2007, Persistent Systems, LLC is a global communications technology company that develops and manufactures a patented and secure Mobile Ad hoc Networking (MANET) system: Wave Relay®. Wave Relay® transmits and receives data, video, voice and other applications under the most difficult conditions. Their suite of products is utilized in Commercial, Military, Government, Industrial, Agriculture, Robotics, and Unmanned Systems markets. Please visit http://www.persistentsystems.com to learn more. Follow Persistent Systems on Twitter to get updates on the latest developments @pswaverelay.

About Raven Industries, Inc.

Raven Industries (NASDAQ: RAVN) provides innovative, high-value products and systems that solve great challenges throughout the world. Raven is a leader in precision agriculture, high-performance specialty films, and aerospace and defense solutions, and the company’s groundbreaking work in autonomous systems is unlocking new possibilities in areas like farming, national defense, and scientific research. Since 1956, Raven has designed, produced, and delivered exceptional solutions, earning the company a reputation for innovation, product quality, and unmatched service. For more information, visit https://ravenind.com.

About Raven Aerostar

Raven Aerostar consists of wholly-owned subsidiaries Aerostar International, Inc. and Aerostar Technical Solutions, Inc. Dedicated to connecting, protecting and saving lives through its work as an Aerospace & Defense provider, Raven Aerostar’s core product offerings include stratospheric platforms, radar and perception sensors, technical services, tethered aerostats, and protective wear. From engineering services to mission planning and support, research and design, and the development of advanced technical products — Raven Aerostar offers tailored turnkey solutions for a multitude of successful operations. Visit https://ravenaerostar.com for more information.


Erik Schechter

Lisa McElrath
Corporate Communications Manager