View Full Version : Navy approves millionsto expand research of next-gen counter-IEDs

09-17-07, 03:09 PM
Navy approves millionsto expand research of next-gen counter-IEDs
By Kris Osborn - kosborn@militarytimes.com
Posted : September 24, 2007

The Navy’s Office of Naval Research has decided to give $5 million to 60 proposals for next-generation devices to counter improvised explosive devices, part of a general effort to step up the search for ways to neutralize the roadside bombs responsible for two-thirds of U.S. casualties in Iraq.

The research is focused on three counter-IED methods: predicting where IEDs might be laid, finding them and stopping them from exploding or reducing the damage done. Among the most intriguing ideas are a multiband jammer, a terahertz laser and an ultrasound device that stops the bleeding in a victim’s liver.

ONR has been funding counter-IED research since 2005, giving grants to government, corporate and university researchers. Laboratories at Johns Hopkins University, Penn State University, University of Hawaii, University of Texas and University of Washington have received $1.5 million to $3 million per year.

But the office is spreading its nets wider. In July, ONR officials asked industry and academia to submit proposals; 400 came in.

“We are bringing a new community to this problem that has never worked with this. We’re looking for approaches that are realistic and have military relevance,” said Michael Shlesinger, who directs research in ONR’s expeditionary maneuver warfare and counterterrorism department.

The multiband jammer, or “channelizer,” which is being tested in San Diego by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, is able to block a wider range of frequencies than current jammers.

“The detonating signal could be any kind of frequency, such as an RF device for a toy car or cell phone,” Shlesinger said. “If someone sets off a device, this would synch with that signal and drown it out, so the signal would not be received by the electronic trigger of the IED.”

The terahertz laser might find IEDs hidden in the ground by exciting explosive materials and causing them to emit light.

“The response of explosive molecules is in the terahertz range. This is a range where traditionally lasers have not been developed, a range between gigahertz and visible light,” Shlesinger said. People have studied pure explosive crystals, he said, but in the IED world you find bombs that are not pure crystals but a mixture of different materials.

Many IEDs use plastics, waxes and other inert materials to hold the explosives together, which can make them tougher to detect, said Navy Capt. Mark Stoffel, who manages ONR’s counter-IED program.

Other research is focused on keeping IED victims alive. Doctors at the University of Washington are experimenting with ultrasound technology to cauterize liver wounds.