Electronic Weapons: June 16, 2005

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After more than three years of development, an American firm (Ionatron) is shipping, to Iraq, ray guns, for detonating roadside bombs. The million dollar devices, called JIN (Joint IED Neutralizer) use artificial lightning to cause the detonators in enemy bombs, especially IEDs (roadside bombs), to go off. The JIN is mounted on a remotely controlled vehicle, as the range of JIN is not sufficient to have troops use it directly. The remotely controlled vehicle gets within JIN range, and then zaps the suspected IED. If it is an explosive device, JINs directed electrical discharge will cause the detonator, which is normally set off with an electrical signal, to go off, thus causing the explosives to, well, explode. The JIN and the robot it rides on are expected to survive most of these explosions with little or no damage. 

Since IEDs come in a wide range of sizes, you never know how big it is until it goes off. JIN will be a big help to the combat engineers who take care of IEDs that are discovered. Most IEDs are found before they can be used. However, the engineers (either American, Iraqi, or foreign contractors) have to dispose of the device. IEDs are often controlled by wireless devices (cell phones, garage door openers, Etc.), but sometimes they are rigged with timers, or to an electrical wire (going back to someone who can set it off.) Until JIN came along, engineers had to use a robot to investigate suspected bombs. Often, if it was a bomb, the enemy would set it off to destroy the robot. Sometimes the terrorists would set the bomb off if they thought the investigating soldiers or police were close enough. Sometimes the bomb was detonated if curious civilians came across it and  gathered around. Engineers had electronic jammers that could block detonation signals, at least long enough for the robot to place an explosive charge next to the bomb, so that the IED could be destroyed. With JIN, identifying and destroying IEDs will be a lot faster and safer. Each JIN costs about one million dollars. The official name, JIN, is a clever play on words, as it sounds like the Arabic word for genie, a legendary spirit creature with magical powers. 

 


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