Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Enemy below

Here are two articles, here and here, both from MIT Technology Review, describing advances in the technology of explosive detection, some of which have been used in Iraq to hunt down the IED makers. The older technology is able to detect TNT even when packed inside closed containers. Newer methods under development promise to extend that capability to detect RDX and PETN.

Improvements in detector technology, combined with new tactics, made it possible for antisubmarine forces inflict increasingly heavy casualties on a hidden enemy while in preparation and transit. While the analogy is not exact, I mention it to underscore the far from unimportant role improved sensors have in fighting against an enemy whose tactics have been optimized to hide inside a "sea of people" full of its own ambient noise but within which lurks a deadly threat.


Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

A guy I met this last weekend did some time working for KBR convoying supplies, clearing wreckage.

He tells me the IEDs & roadsides now usually are just plastic instead of old shells. Shells are detectable by metal detectors. He went on to relate how a group of Iraqi police that were "escorting" them were caught planting roadsides in front of the convoy.

No time to rest, when the hole is dug, don't sit down time to dig another one.

6/05/2007 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

I had some passing familiarity with explosives detection in the 90’s. Metal detectors, sniffers, and neutron back scatter that detects plastics. In the world of explosives detection, no one instrument solves all your problems. Multi-layered, multi-spectral instruments would have to suffice, but if Marcus Aurelius’s comment is what it appears, knowing who your friends are might be the most potent defense.

6/05/2007 01:56:00 PM  
Blogger Papa Ray said...

What is that ol' saying keep your friends close, but your enemies closer?

Something like that.

Something I have picked up by going around to milblogs is that our ASW is becoming less effective because the Navy can't get the time or the money for multiple, continuous ASW training.

This is important because of the new advent of dozens if not hundreds of new diesel subs that are being manufactured for states that are not really our friends.

Finding explosives will be an ongoing battle because of the hundreds of possible explosives and the hundreds of ways to explode them.

Maybe some of those giant machines that I remember from Star Wars is the ticket. Robots of course, in case one gets blown up.

Papa Ray
West Texas

6/05/2007 06:31:00 PM  
Blogger Randy said...

"The heart of the detector is a semiconducting polymer, originally developed by MIT chemistry professor Timothy Swager, that fluoresces when exposed to ultraviolet light."

Amplifying Fluorescent Polymer

6/06/2007 06:12:00 AM  

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