Juan Hernandez, vice-president of Chemring Sensors & Electronic Systems, explains how the company's advanced counter-IED technology and extensive R&D efforts are helping safeguard ground troops in theatres around the world.
Can you provide some background on Chemring's C-IED capabilities?
Juan Hernandez: Chemring Sensors & Electronic Systems (CSES), part of Chemring Group, has successfully addressed the IED threat with its ground-penetrating radar (GPR) technology through its subsidiaries, NIITEK (Non-Intrusive Inspection Technologies Company) and 3d-Radar.
NIITEK is the world leader in the design, development and production of counter-IED GPR systems. Its mission is to save soldier and civilian lives by detecting threats before they can cause harm. NIITEK's combat-proven GPR is on the leading edge of mine-detection technology and has been successfully used by the US Army, US Marine Corps and coalition forces worldwide. The scalable GPR systems are designed for roads, paths and area clearance, and can be adapted to a wide variety of vehicles, from manned to robotically controlled systems.
3d-Radar specialises in three-dimensional, step-frequency radar technology and multichannel antenna design. 3d-Radar's commercial and military applications include: road pavement inspection/analysis, aircraft runway inspection/analysis, bridge inspection/analysis, railroad ballast inspection/analysis, utility mapping, archaeology, tunnel and cache detection, and military landmine and IED detection. As a service provider, 3d-Radar works in partnership with customers and subject matter experts around the world to conduct surveys and analysis for a variety of municipalities, engineering services firms, transportation regional authorities and rail companies, to name a few. Its biggest military customer is in the UK on Royal Engineer Route Clearance vehicles.
What sets your C-IED technology apart from that of your competitors?
NIITEK's GPR sensors are installed on the armoured Husky Mounted Detection System (HMDS), which was originally a Joint Urgent Operational Need, or JUON, in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of its success against metallic and non-metallic explosive threats in the combat theatre, it has now evolved into a Program of Record for the US Army and US Marine Corps.
NIITEK's GPR is based on the Wichmann design, and provides, excellent signal to clutter ratio and extremely low radar cross-section. This design is optimised for visualisation, detection and discrimination of buried targets. The NIITEK GPR performs very well against metal and non-metallic anti-tank (AT) mines regardless of burial depths, as well as metal and non-metallic anti-personnel (AP) targets.
How is Chemring planning for future threats? How adaptable are your products for today's asymmetric conflicts?
NIITEK continues to invest in R&D to further develop GPR, as well as combine other sensors that ultimately add to a higher probability of detection and a lower false-alarm rate. The R-VISOR, a smaller GPR system adapted for small unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), and GROUNDSHARK, a handheld detection product, are two of the newest results of that ongoing R&D.
The R-VISOR system provides a robot-mounted tele-operated detection system that can clear a path and inspect spots at stand-off distances. It's completed testing at the US Army's test ranges at Fort AP Hill, Virginia, and Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, as well as against current threats in theatre, and is in operation with the Republic of Turkey's land forces along the Turkish-Syrian border. R-VISOR is integrated on the QinetiQ TALON IV Robot but can be adapted to other unmanned ground vehicle systems.
NIITEK's GROUNDSHARK - a dual-sensor detection system - is already in use with the Polish Army and under evaluation by a variety of countries around the world. It can detect and discriminate a variety of threats/objects that could include buried explosive targets such as AP and AT landmines; UXO; main charges; and low-metallic, non-ferrous, non-magnetic and non-metallic objects commonly used in IEDs. The system visualises subsurface objects, and the use of multiple sensors allows an operator to better 'see' into the ground than a single-sensor system.
As the enemy is wily and adaptable, CSES works hard to stay ahead of today's threats and anticipate future threats. It does so by maintaining its expert leadership in the counter-IED arena with continued investment in new technology, improvements to its product offerings, integration of multiple sensors into its products, and delivering and sustaining superior detection systems to the soldier.