More than just your average DD
For those skeptics out there that have been shrugging your shoulders and chuckling at the two PBIS endeavors that AFPW has been working on with the Air Force Special Operations Command, I think you need to understand the current state of U.S. Special Forces and where their main focus is going to be in the forseeable future. I will first reference a few lines from the Sept. 1, 2011 PR that announced the development of the PBIS-2000 for (what was then) an unspecified military customer:
AlumiFuel Power Corporation announced today that it is developing a new member of the Portable Balloon Inflation System (PBIS) family -- the PBIS-2000 -- at the request of a new, unspecified military customer with an urgent requirement.
Hmmm, "urgent" requirement huh? I wonder what could be so urgent that they need a device to easily, quickly, and safely launch weather balloons in remote places?
Then I'll reference a few lines from the May 29, 2012 PR that announced the delivery of the PBIS-200 specs to the Air Force:
Pilot balloons are the most common weather balloon size for upper air meteorological soundings in the world. The new PBIS-200 system will meet the requirements of global meteorological services, especially those operating in remote areas or in developing nations, including a number of African countries. The greatest inhibitor to launching weather balloons in remote locations is the cost and difficulty of transporting the source of hydrogen lift gas. The PBIS-200 will drastically reduce the cost and difficulty of launching weather balloons in these locations, and enable launches in previously inaccessible areas.
When I first read that I was a little puzzled. Why did they throw in that "African countries" part? For such a seemingly general statement, naming Africa is quite a specific location. Then I did some research on the current state of special forces, and was amazed at how much focus is being built on Africa, and how fast we've been building our special forces presence there. Read this article and get informed: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/01/battleground-africa/
Then read about the unfortunate fate of four Air Force Special Ops members that lost their lives on the job over Africa in February: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/u-s-special-ops-spy-plane-crashes-in-africa-killing-four/
So when you piece the puzzle together, you can get a clue on why the Air Force Special Ops is seeking out this PBIS technology. They are actively performing missions throughout Africa, and the meteorological intel they gather from these weather balloons assists with everything from drone spy plane missions to air cargo drops to whatever else they need it for.
I'll leave you with one last article on the increasing role special forces has in Africa: http://www.stripes.com/news/africom-commander-i-d-like-more-special-operations-forces-now-1.155066
Remember, big players are seeking AFPW out for their technology, not the other way around. Think about that the next time you want to throw AFPW under the bus and leave it for dead.