The U.S. Army Research Laboratory and its partners Beyond Photonics and Halo Photonics have built a Doppler light detection and ranging system to support the airdrop operations of Army Pathfinders.
ARL worked to develop the Man-Portable Doppler LiDAR system to retire the pilot balloon tracking mechanism as a response to a request for information from U.S. Army-Africa, the service branch said May 11.
The helium-filled balloon is tracked to measure wind profile and support battlefield airdrop operations while MPDL is a 45-pound system that works to operate on 24-volt batteries, the Army added.
“Pathfinders currently face challenges impacting operations and warfighter safety,” said Deryck James, ARL meteorological technician for the atmospheric sensing branch.
He added that LiDAR systems like MPDL work to facilitate environmental awareness and precision airdrops for Pathfinders.
MPDL is designed to aid Pathfinders as they work to infiltrate areas and set up parachute drop zones and helicopter landing zones for aerial missions, the Army added.
James and David Ligon from ARL’s atmospheric sensing branch trained members of the Georgia National Guard on the new Doppler LiDAR system.
Georgia National Guard soldiers will also be trained to use MPDL before the system is fielded during the Central Accord 2016 joint exercises in Gabon, Africa, the Army said.