Armor: Rounding Up More Huskies


January 7, 2011: The U.S. Army has just purchased another 64 HMDS (Husky Mounted Detection System) IED (Improvised Explosive Devices, usually anti-vehicle mines or roadside bombs very near the side of the road) detectors, for $500,000 each. Spare parts and technical support nearly triples the price. HMDS is actually a ground penetrating radar that can see what is under the road ahead. It is usually mounted on a special mine hunting MRAP armored vehicle. Six months ago, the army ordered 76 HMDS systems, which have already been delivered. The new order will be delivered over the next ten months.

With HMDS, troops inside an MRAP use a computerized analysis system that can quickly spot underground IEDs. The system includes GPS, which enables the operator to quickly store the location of the bomb. HMDS can even present an image of the buried item, but all the mine clearance troops are really interested in is finding suspected mines or bombs, and disabling or destroying (blowing them up) the devices. HMDS has enabled combat engineer units to quickly and regularly check heavily used roads for IEDs. An HMDS can scan a road at speeds of up to 12 kilometers an hour. Scan data for up to a hundred kilometers of road can be stored in the system computer (and offloaded to portable hard drives). The stored scan data is used to improve the accuracy of the analysis and prediction software. The system is not 100 percent accurate, but the more past data in the system, the better the accuracy. This is an ongoing process in order to deal with new IED designs and placement tactics.

Nearly 200 HMDS systems are in use, and other companies are developing similar systems. This is possible because HMDS is based on off-the-shelf components. Ground scanning radar and predictive analysis software have been around for decades, and the British manufacturer was the first to realize the potential for use as an IED detector. HMDS has noticeably reduced the effectiveness of the Taliban IED tactics.



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