Airmen of the 820th Security Forces Group are busy these days. Not only are they conducting the user trial and training for the GSAT ShotSpotter + ScanEagle anti-sniper system, they’re also the first unit selected to conduct the extended user evaluation portion of the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration (ACTD) process for “Project Sherrif,” otherwise known as the Active Denial System. ADS won Popular Science magazine’s “Best of What’s New Award” in general technology back in 2001, and DID has been covering this system since May 2005; despite funding and requests from combat commanders, however, the system continues to move toward approval at a very slow pace.
More than 700 volunteers have been tested with the system. Of those, 2 experienced second-degree burns, the last in 2007. It was briefly deployed in Afghanistan in 2010, but reportedly withdrawn without having seen action, according to reports from an interview between Noah Schactman (then of Wired) and General Stanley McChrystal.
In the last month, the Army has been promoting its ADS system, with exercises held in late December, as well as promotional civilian communications, such as the YouTube video appearing in today’s Rapid Fire. The communications come from the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program.
ADS uses invisible, focused microwave beams at a frequency that that can’t penetrate human skin, but does stimulate nerves within it, producing an imaginary but painful burning sensation that instinctively forces people to move away. Past Project Sheriff reports also describe an escalating series of measures, from a “Long Range Acoustic Device” (sonic blaster), up to a Laser Dazzler, then on to the ADS pain ray before things escalate to live ammunition. Tech. Sgt. John DeLaCerda, the NCO in charge of the 820th SFG advanced technologies section, put it this way:
The 2004 National Landmine Policy directed the Pentagon to end the use of persistent landmines after 2010, and introduce self-destructing and self-deactivating alternatives. The XM-7 Spider is the successor to the Matrix system deployed in Iraq, and part of the USA’s Non-Self-Destructing Anti-Personnel Landmine Alternatives (NSD-A) program.
Spider is more of a “remote explosive device” than a typical lay-and-forget land mine. It’s detonated by soldier command, and that soldier can even load non-lethal canisters if the mission calls for it. Unlike conventional land mines, the XM-7 Spider always has a known location, so it can be safely and easily recovered and re-deployed. If that isn’t possible for some reason, XM-7 units deactivate after a set time period, so they won’t become a future threat. It sounds good, and its capabilities are badly needed in places like remote fire bases, and along Korea’s dangerous DMZ. Unfortunately, the program has run into difficulties and delays.
Up to $1.7 billion to CSC, Sparta, and General Dynamics for infrastructure and deployment services for the US Ballistic Missile Defense System under the MDA’s Engineering and Support Services (MiDAESS) program.
Debt Buyback: Northrop Grumman to purchase $2.1 billion in debt securities of its Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding and Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. subsidiaries.
A Flare for Flares: ATK snags $71 million contract to supply aircraft-deployed LUU-2D/B visible light illumination flares and LUU-19B/B infrared energy illumination flares for battlefield operations.
Can you hear me now?: ManTech receives a $68 million contract to build and deploy an expeditionary cell phone system for the US Army’s forward bases in Afghanistan.
Midwest Research Institute gets $35.5 million order to supply a test system for chemical weapon contamination at the US Army Research, Development and Engineering Command at Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD.
Defense was an issue in the 2007 Australian election. The center-left Labor Party attacked the center-right Liberal Party by citing mismanaged projects, and accusing the Howard government of making poor choices on key defense platforms like the F/A-18F Super Hornet and F-35A Joint Strike fighters. That sniping continued even after Labor won the election, and has been evident in more than a few Defence Ministry releases.
The new government made some program changes, such as canceling the SH-2G Seasprite contract. Yet it has been more notable for the programs it has not changed: problematic upgrades of Australia’s Oliver Hazard Perry frigates were continued, the late purchase of F/A-18F Super Hornets was ratified rather than canceled, and observers waited for the real shoe to drop: the government’s promised 2009 Defence White Paper, which would lay out Australia’s long-term strategic assessments, and procurement plans.
On May 2/09, Australia’s government released “Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century: Force 2030.” DID has reviewed that document, and the reaction to date including a new ASPI roundup of reactions from around Asia.
Detachment 8 Air Force Research Laboratory/PKDP at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM is researching new opportunities in all aspects of high-power electromagnetic weaponry. Their research supports missions such as survivability of U.S. Department of Defense equipment against high-power microwave emissions, the development of high-power microwave (HPM) weapons, and the refinement of high-power microwave-predictive modeling for inclusion into engagement and campaign-level models.
HPM actually encompasses a variety of devices. HERF (High Energy Radio Frequency) and EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) “electronics killer e-bombs” effects are HPM weapons, and this field has received the bulk for research dollars. So too, however, is “Project Sheriff,” also known as the “pain ray” that does no significant damage to its human target other than causing pain. Other nations believed to be conducting research in the area of HPM weapons generally include China, Great Britain and France.
The Air Force is awarding a $24 million to be split among these eight companies. DID lists the companies involved in the current contract, and also notes previous contracts along similar lines that extend back to 1994:
There’s a lot to be said for timing. Eagle Eye Body Armor sent us a release today noting that “Hunting accidents can be prevented carrying special hunting body armor… The Eagle Eye hunter’s jacket that allows free movement with light weight is specially designed for the protection of individuals during the hunt.”
Meanwhile, DefenseTech had a feature noting Taser International’s Less Lethal Shotgun. As of yesterday, Taser announced that it had “successfully completed a live-fire demonstration of the TASER XREP(TM) (eXtended Range Electro-Muscular Projectile), completing a research and development program for the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Multiple rounds were fired from a 12-gauge shotgun, one of the most prevalent shoulder fired launchers in use today, at ranges up to 30 meters demonstrating a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6 (system prototype demonstration in relevant environment).” No word on what it does to quail, though if the answer is “instant barbecue prep” and there’s some possibility of hitting one, we’d consider it.
Yesterday, DID described how a sims-style video game was training attack sub sailors to be prepared for security threats while in port. Apparently, the US Navy isn’t stopping there. Northrop Grumman Corp. Electronic Systems in Annapolis, MD received a $6 million firm-fixed-price/cost type contract for the Shipboard Protection System (SPS). The purpose of the SPS system is to enhance the ability of surface naval vessels to defeat terrorist attempts or counter other threats while moored to a pier, at anchor, or during restricted maneuvering like canals, narrow littoral channels, etc.
Capabilities for Increment I include: Integrated Surface Surveillance System, and Non-lethal weapons/devices. The surface surveillance system integrates EO/IR sensors, radar, and stabilized guns into a common tactical surveillance system. Non-lethal weaponry will also be included.
Aaardvark Tactical, Inc. in Azusa, CA won a not-to-exceed $50 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for force protection capability sets. These sets provide non-lethal and anti-terrorism items to bases, installations, and expeditionary forces around the world.