Electronic Weapons: The Wolfhound Is A Nasty Surprise

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October 31, 2013: Back in 2009 the U.S. Army began issuing the Wolfhound Handheld Threat Warning System. Weighing less than 20 kg (44 pounds, with the antenna) it could be carried in a vehicle or in backpack with the operator using a handheld controller. It takes less than 20 hours to learn how to use. This device can detect signals from handheld radios the enemy uses and show their location. If the operator has a linguist along the enemy discussions can be instantly translated and acted on.

Terrorists like to use these cheap (under $100 each for the most capable) “push to talk” walkie talkies. The cheapest ones have a range in the open of five kilometers, and a hundred meters or so in built up areas. The top of the line ones have a maximum (in the open) range of eight kilometers, and up to 15 floors (or, more practically, over two-hundred meters) in urban terrain.

In detection mode Wolfhound is basically a RDF (Radio Direction Finder) device. RDF is a century old technique using a radio receiver that shows the direction a radio transmission is coming from. Use two of these, and with a little basic trigonometry, you can locate the precise location of the transmitter. During the World Wars this came to be known as high frequency direction finding, or HF/DF, or more informally huff-duff. It was crucial in naval and air war operations but less so on the ground. It was the U.S. Army Special Forces teams operating out in the Afghan countryside who first encountered the Taliban using these handheld radios. Initially RDF gear was not always available (either in an aircraft or the vehicle mounted rig) and that led to the portable Wolfhound device.

Wolfhound can be used on the move and has a color display and easy-to-learn controls. With Wolfhound troops on foot, in remote locations, it could locate Taliban radio users (be they lookouts, bases, or groups on the move). Thus, over the last two years since the Wolfhound was first deployed, Taliban losses have increased because of portable RDF and the enemy has been forced be more careful with their electronic communications.

 

 


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