Printer Friendly

Contractors competing for chem-bio defense dollars.

A small credit-card size device that can be installed on unmanned drones could be used to detect airborne nerve and blister agents. The technology was developed at the Sandia National Laboratory, in New Mexico, and is being marketed by Lockheed Martin.

Called SnifferStar, it can send data on potential threats to a processor on the UAV or to a ground station. The information is analyzed against a library of frequency patterns created by agents. The entire process takes 20 seconds.

Currently, the system is being tested on a UAV at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. However, according to Doug Adkins, one of the developers of SnifferStar, the system his encountered some communications problems. Those issues have limited demonstrations to the ground-based system, he said.

SnifferStar continually sends data. The ground-based unit needs to ignore the interferences that occur when SnifferStar transmits information, said Adkins.

"We're working on software to ignore 'burps' in the data," he said. SnifferStar is still in early stages of development. "Deployment is a couple of years down the line."

The detector originally was developed by Sandia. Lockheed Martin liked the idea and funded a program to try it out on a UAV.

The system was on display at the latest Worldwide Chemical Conference, in Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

SnifferStar began in 2000, but the project lagged until recently, when the services showed interest.

The Office of Naval Research, in Arlington, Va., is working with Advanced Ceramics Research, of Tucson, Ariz., to put SnifferStar on the company's Silver Fox UAV, Adkins said.

Silver Fox is a research and development effort to create a small, lightweight, inexpensive or expendable unmanned aerial vehicle that will fly autonomously for long durations at 60 knots, and will run on JP-5/JP-8 fuel. It is designed to carry sensor packages weighing up to 4 pounds.

Another detector shown at the conference, called ChemPatrol, was developed by General Dynamics Armament and Technical Production. The system provides 360-degree coverage at a range of three miles.

"It's probably a year away [from fielding]," said Allan McCormick, software manager for GDATP.

The unit can be mounted on ground, sea and air platforms. It was originally designed to fit into the Hellfire missile tube onboard an AH-64D Apache helicopter.

GDATP also fielded the Joint Service Lightweight Standoff Chemical Agent Detector (JSLSCAD). It provides 360-degree coverage for both ground- and sea-based platforms and 60-degree range for aircraft. It can be positioned up to five kilometers away. It uses a passive infrared system to detect, classify and identify nerve, blister and blood agent vapors.

There are 50 units currently deployed, said McCormick. It has been flown on helicopters and can be mounted on fire department hazardous material vehicles.

First responders have said they like the system, "but the technology is rather expensive," McCormick said. Each JSLSCAD costs approximately $200,000.

Other intended platforms include Humvees, C-130 aircraft, the Advanced Infantry Armored Vehicle and most classes of ships.

Companies also are trying to meet a growing demand for decontamination equipment.

Global is working to turn an airplane de-icing truck (the GL-1800 DAP) into a decontamination vehicle.

"It is designed for one-step decontamination of mobile equipment, fixed sites, [building] exteriors, transportation infrastructure and wide areas such as runways and roads," said Bruce Turner, contract administrator with Global.

One load of decontaminant can be dispersed in 36 minutes and can cover a three- to four-acre area, he said.

It his a 1,975 gallon capacity.

An untrained team can decontaminate about 60 vehicles with one load, while a trained team could probably do 90 vehicles, Turner said.

In 1998, the Air Force selected the GL-1800 for de-icing. It has since bought 170 trucks.

According to Turner, it wouldn't be difficult to upgrade the trucks to handle decontamination work. The idea of converting the vehicles took shape after Army Gen. Tommy Franks put out an emergency need statement for 32 decontamination vehicles just before Operation Iraqi Freedom, Turner said.

But almost nine months after the start of the war, nothing has happened on the decontamination vehicle front, Turner added.

The GL-1800 has been tested at Fort Leonard Wood and Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.

Turner said the trunk needs to be more ruggedized for tactical use.

The Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense has procured an off-the-shelf decontamination vehicle. Intelagard's Falcon compressed air system is pulled by a Ford F150 pickup truck. With a four-man team it can decontaminate one mile of road or a three- to four-story building.

The system cost about $100,000, including the vehicle, said John D. Breedlove, director of product development for Intelagard.

An Army official said the cost for contractor support for the Intelagard system ($200,000) was far less than the Global system ($2.5 million).

The Intelagard system was tested at Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., and 32 trucks and 34 trailers were awaiting deployment to the Middle East, said Breedlove.

Other services have shown interest, he said. In particular, it has caught the attention of the Navy, which would use this technology at sea ports, Breedlove added.

The Analytical Laboratory System (ALS) is a self-contained mobile lab for first responders and the National Guard's Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Teams. Using commercial-off-the-shelf equipment, it analyzes toxic materials and chemical agents within 30 minutes, and biological agents within 45 minutes. ALS can operate in a range of extreme environments, and is transportable on a C-130.

Although ALS has not yet been deployed, foreign countries are showing interest in it, said an official familiar with the program.

The fielding schedule for ALS is expected to be finalized in mid 2004. The vehicle will go out to all 32 of the Civil Support teams. The order of allocation has yet to be determined. Among the 32 CST units that will get air ALS are those based in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Maine, southern and northern California and Texas, according to an Army spokesperson.

A total of 36 ALS systems have been ordered.

ALS underwent developmental resting at Aberdeen Test Center between August and October 2002. A month later it underwent a limited user test at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md..

This past fall, the system went through a production verification test at Aberdeen Test Center and the initial operational test at Camp Dawson and the Center for National Response in West Virginia. The test comprised a safety and human factors evaluation and reliability and six different 36-hour sessions of simulated operational responses using actual Civil Support Team members, according to an Army spokesperson.

Wolfcoach Inc., an L3 company in Auburn, Mass., built the ALS. Each vehicle costs approximately $431,700.

ALS operators will have to undergo specialized training on the analytical and communications equipment.

The Unified Command Suite (UCS) is a fielded communications system for use by Civil Support Team commanders. Fielding of the vehicle was completed in August 2002.

It uses a combination of consumer-off-the-shelf and government issued communications devices to provide real-time voice, data and video connectivity. UCS has both classified and unclassified systems.

Its mission is to act as a command and control hub for the ALS.

The self-contained mobile communications vehicle is designed to operate alongside the ALS, and like the ALS it is transportable on a C-130.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) at St. Inigoes, Md. conducted the technical vehicle and communications tests. The Navy was the lead agency for the development of the vehicle.

The tests were held throughout 1999 and 2000 at St. Inigoes, and Worcester, Mass.

A rural of 36 systems have been ordered for disbursement to CST teams.

Each vehicle, including the wide array of communications equipment, costs approximately $1.2 million.

CST members were trained on the operation of the UCS communications equipment.
COPYRIGHT 2004 National Defense Industrial Association
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Fein, Geoff S.
Publication:National Defense
Date:Jan 1, 2004
Previous Article:DARPA sketches futuristic 'virtual schoolhouse': although the technology does not yet exist, DARPA believes the concept can work.
Next Article:Military vehicles could benefit from hybrid electric engines.

Related Articles
Agency Focuses on Chem-Bio Homeland Defense.
Chem-Bio detector market reaches $400M.
Editor's corner.
U.S. rushes to upgrade chem-bio gear: research and development programs remain unfocused, say critics.
Chem-bio defense policies revisited Post-Iraq.
Federal Acquisition Circular (FAC) 2001-20 quick reference tool special emergency procurement authorities--summary matrix.
NDIA events calendar.
Homeland defense: military efforts target the protection of civilians.
Innovation needed for chem-bio gear.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters