Defending America with rugged computers

Soldiers in the field depend on a few basic things. One of them in the modern Army is computers -- rugged, portable computers.

"We developed and manufacture high performance work stations  for the war fighter," said Tim Kavanagh from Rugged Portable Computers, the Madison company that has been in the business for more than two decades.

Computers aren't weapons, at least on the battlefield, nor are they body armor. But in the 21st century, you can't do without them. "No, not these days, because there's a lot of applications they're using," said Kavanagh.

Among the applications Rugged Portable Computers handles for the Army is the ground station for the Shadow Unmanned Aircraft System.  The computers manufactured in Madison are built to handle temperature extremes, hard knocks, quick deployment and other "extra" requirements. "Downtime is real critical, so if you have dust that comes in and set the machine down you have critical time, you lose. It could be lives. It could be missions," said Kavanagh.

Soldiers in the field need to know their gear is going to work, and the folks at Rugged Portable Computers say they have no problem with that. They'll tell you they build their units to be tough.  You might say, rugged.