One of the many lessons from the deployment of troops in Afghanistan is that protecting temporary and forward-operating bases is costly and challenging. As the US withdraws its forces, a flurry of attacks on even the most heavily guarded bases has provided more momentum to the search for a reliable, efficient and flexible approach to base security. The answer undoubtedly lies in technology and the ability to leverage smart systems to replace manned lookout posts and vehicle patrols. Such systems are, in fact, already on the market and Exensor Technology’s Flexnet system has been proven on operations globally by 20 nations for many years.
“Our intelligent unattended ground sensors (UGS) are flexible, scalable and quick to deploy,” says Phil Ashworth, UK managing director of Exensor Technology. “They provide immediate protection for a small deployment and can easily scale up as the base grows. It is operationally proven, so users can have confidence in the technology.”
Exensor’s Flexnet UGS solution connects a modular set of smart sensors and cameras over a silent, self-healing wireless Mesh network to create a next-generation threat detection and identification system.
“It is not just a burglar alarm,” says Ashworth. “It does more than just alert a base to an intrusion. The system uses intelligent sensors and networks to track and identify any threat. It builds situational awareness, allowing the commander to develop an appropriate threat status, rather than responding to every stray dog that trips a sensor or crosses the perimeter.”
Seismic acoustic sensors, which detect activity outside the wire, can classify a threat as an individual, a group or a vehicle. The alert wakes up the other dormant sensors – passive infrared detectors to identify the direction of travel and intelligent thermal or daylight cameras that allow a commander to observe a threat in detail.
“When an alert is triggered, it is still only a potential threat, but the camera gives eyes on and enables the commander to initiate the appropriate response,” Ashworth adds. “The sensors are all triggered within minutes.”
The open-systems architecture means that a range of other capabilities can be easily added to this basic sensor set, including long-range radar and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threat detection solutions, UAS and PTZ.
Exensor’s parent company, Bertin Technologies, has a set of proprietary CBRN sensors, such as such as the Second Sight standoff chemical detections system, that can be easily integrated into the solution. These sensors are proven in the field and have been used extensively by armed forces, rapid intervention teams, and public health and emergency services.
“The interoperability that comes with an open-systems architecture means that the solution can be integrated with the intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) systems used in Afghanistan,” Ashworth says. “It can be used as its own battle management system (BMS) or can be integrated with any other BMS.”
The result is a high-tech, intelligent threat detection and identification system that can be used in a flexible, layered and customised way in almost any application, whether to protect a single-asset or a remote operating base. Furthermore, with that flexibility comes cost efficiency.
“A force at readiness is expensive; instead of deploying troops to protect a single, high-value aircraft, it is possible to have a smaller force with a 24/7 monitoring system that never sleeps,” says Ashworth. “To protect a large base, it takes five people per post – three on eight-hour shifts, one on leave, one on standby – but the Exensor system can greatly reduce the number of personnel, so people can be moved to the rear where they act as skilled operators of a system that can do more than they can.”
UGS represents the next level in base security, and Exensor is the next level in UGS.