As news reports over the weekend continued to report that President Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai are moving toward accelerating the timetable for U.S. troops' departure from Afghanistan, a new contract just announced by the Department of Defense suggests the pullout may not be quite as imminent as suggested.

On Monday, the Pentagon awarded TCOM Limited Liability Partnership a $15.6 million firm-fixed-price delivery order for additional 22M and 28M aerostat parts and spares, "in support of the Army's Persistent Ground Surveillance System Program." PGSS refers to a program whereby the Army floats aerostats (essentially high-tech, stationary blimps) above the ground in Afghanistan to monitor Taliban movements on the ground. Historically, key contractors on this and similar programs have included Raven Industries  (NASDAQ:RAVN), Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), and also Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT). TCOM, in contrast, is a small contractor based in Columbia, Md.

Work on the contract is expected to be complete by May 2013.


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