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IED Detection and Defeat 

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Hopper, an intelligence operator with the 101st Military Intelligence Squadron at Hanscom Air Base, prepares to don a mock suicide vest to evaluate the effectiveness of a concealed weapons detection system. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Allen Russell, 65th Public Affairs Operations Center)
By Army Pfc. Allen Russell, 65th Public Affairs Operations Center 

CAMP EDWARDS, Mass., - The Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Program Office at Hanscom Air Force Base worked with several private contractors to evaluate new detection of concealed weapons detection systems on Camp Edwards, June 3, 2009.

The testing of this equipment involved several civilian contractors, college students and military personnel from the 102nd Intelligence Wing.  “The goal is for the systems to become certified so they can be approved for future military use,” said Alexis Presti, a supervisor for Air Force small business innovative research at Hanscom Air Force Base. 

To assist the vendors in meeting certification standards the devices were tested for two days under the supervision of the Capabilities Integration Directorate; a research and development team that overseas and supports civilian contractors.

“Our goal is to help the vendors any way we can to meet the certification standards that the Department of Defense puts out so these systems can be help save lives,” said Presti.

“The plan is to finish the evaluation and testing phases so that production of the devices can begin,” said Jarrod Lucero, a representative for Safe Zone Systems.

The detectors currently in testing are radar based and use a video camera to transmit images to the operator, who can be positioned safely up to 500 meters from where the system is set up.  They are currently made to detect metallic and non-metallic shrapnel type weapons, including suicide bomb vests. “The goal is obviously 100 percent detection, but it is currently running at around a 98 percent success rate,” said Lucero.

Designed for checkpoint security, the Safe Zone system can run off of a car battery for mobile checkpoints. Lucero said that it is almost self-operating and very little training is needed to successfully operate it in the field.

The Safe Zone system is also being evaluated as a replacement for other forms of security measures in banks and airports. Lucero said there is no issue with privacy as the individual images are not transmitted to the operator.

Even college students came out to help supervise the project. “It's a great environment to work in and it aligns what we learn about in class with how the technology is actually being used in the real world,” said Alyssa Feola, a computer science major at Salem State College, Salem, Massachusetts.

The vendors were unable to say exactly when or if these systems will be used in the field because they require more testing. “Products like this shouldn’t be fielded until they’re 100 percent effective and will save lives,” said Lucero.