Friday, February 17, 2006

Marines get a new weapon to combat IEDs

Remote controlled bomb detonator. I wondered what sort of "bomb squad" stuff our troops had, and if anything new was in the pipeline.

Californian - Camp Pendleton Marines in Iraq are about to get a new remote-controlled vehicle built to detect and detonate roadside bombs that have been responsible for about half of all U.S. combat deaths and injuries since the March 2003 invasion.

Troops drive the vehicle from a safe distance to within range of a bomb and then discharge electrical signals to detonate what the military refers to as IEDs, or "improvised explosive devices."

The Pentagon has ordered at least a dozen of the vehicles, known as the Joint Improved Explosive Device Neutralizer. It is sending one prototype to Afghanistan this week and is working with the Marine Corps to get one or more of the units into Iraq within a matter of days, according to a Pentagon memo obtained by the North County Times this week.

They need to come up with a better name... something that lends to an easier acronym because JIEDN doesn't really roll off the tongue.

[...]In tests at the Yuma Proving Grounds last fall, a prototype of the neutralizer destroyed the majority of bombs it was intended to detect, according to published reports.

The vehicle, about the size of a jeep with long, needlelike extension to send out radio signals to trigger bomb detonators, is plated with protective armor and can withstand small-arms attacks. It is being developed by Ionatron Inc., a defense contractor from Tucson, Ariz.

[...] The task force is concentrating on a three-pronged approach to combating roadside bombs, the task force spokeswoman said. The first is defeating the bombs with equipment such as the neutralizer vehicle. The second entails identifying the bomb-makers and capturing them before they can build and place a bomb, while the third is to train U.S. and Iraqi forces in the latest in roadside bomb detection and prevention.

Sweet. Sounds like it ought to work out pretty well, and maybe it will end up saving hundreds of lives in the long run. Apparently there was some concern over the vehicle in the House Armed Services Committee because it wasn't 100% effective. I dunno... it's not like this is a new fighter jet or tank where there's concern about whether the jet will fly or the tank's guns work. It's armored and mayeb 75-80% effective. Sounds worth it to me...