October 10, 2010:
The U.S. Army has developed a compact (61 cm/2 feet square) device that, when in an aircraft or aerostat (tethered blimp held stationary at 320 meters altitude) provides 3G like Internet wireless communications for troops below. This mobile node is connected to the military Internet and provides troops instant access to all military resources worldwide. In Afghanistan, the many hills and mountains constrict existing military radios (which tend to be FM, or line-of-sight). One critical need for troops is the ability to quickly communicate with intelligence databases to see if fingerprints taken from someone just picked up as a suspected terrorist, has been picked up before. Or maybe his prints have been found on roadside bomb parts or at some other suspicious site. While it's important to know if you have just caught a terrorist, it's equally important to cut loose innocent suspects as soon as possible. The airborne node also connects troops to all manner of useful resources, like maps or weather reports. The battlefield Internet becomes more of a reality with equipment like this.