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IED Detection Technology Program

This caught my eye this morning and warrants a quick mention. The U.S. Army Research Laboratory has announced a Phase One program seeking companies that can provide a mobile or handheld detector to identify improvised explosive devices from 10 meters away at a speed of 8 mph (or faster).

Sounds great, right? Well, not when you consider that at 55 mph, a vehicle is travelling at more than 80 feet per second. In January 2006 it was reported that some IEDs, in the case of this one report, a 155mm artillery shell rigged as an improvised explosive device, have a blast kill radius of 75 meters (246 feet).

It is probably a given that all IEDs are not equal, and therefore the “kill radius” is less or more depending on the explosive device. What is also a given, is that at 55 mph, a vehicle will be in the blast kill zone long before the IED is detected. Consider the problem a slightly different way. Even if a detector can “see” an IED from 100 yards away, depending on the speed of the vehicle, it could still be in the blast zone when the alert is sounded.

That is the serious problem facing our military, and illustrates the challenge for technology to succeed in this new type of warfare.