Recent advances in technology have led to the development of new radio-wave sensors that have the ability to detect hidden explosives such as car bombs and other IEDs (improvised explosive devices). Not only can this new technology help to enhance IED detection, but it will also give us the ability to increase and improve our airport security even more by allowing us to better detect hidden bombs.
IED Detection Within Airport Security
For the US military, the ability to detect roadside bombs and other IED has been a very deadly challenge. Luckily, Raytheon--a US defense contractor company--has successfully created a new and inventive radio-frequency sensor that targets and identifies explosives by identifying their chemical compositions. They are calling this new sensor REDS (Raytheon’s Explosive Detection System). REDS have interchanging sizes depending on what it is being used for and where it is being used at. It can either be a small sensor that’s approximately the size of the average laptop or it can be big enough to be used as a checkpoint to scan people and vehicles as they pass (i.e for airport security purposes). Unfortunately, REDS is still in its experimental phase and going through contract demos with numerous military defense organizations.
During the adjustment and modification process, scientists at Raytheon were able to configure it to quickly identify a specific explosive chemical/stimulant such as C4. It also has the capability to scan for chemicals compounds that are found in IED and car bombs such as ammonium nitrate. Rimas Guzulaitis, the senior director with Raytheon explains, “Because it scans so quickly, it can switch between the frequencies we need to be able to scan for multiple things, whatever the things of interest are” (Source). Later in the year--once Raytheon has made the necessary improvements--Raytheon will be testing the full-size, scanner version of the REDS with JIDO (Joint Improvised-Threat Defeat Organization).
However, Raytheon isn’t the only company who’s looking for ways to further improve our airport security and IED detecting systems. One Resonance Sensors is a San Diego-based startup company that has recently developed a new piece of technology called an RF scanner. This RF scanner is designed to detect and identify explosives that are placed within liquids and electronic devices such as laptops, tablets, and smartphones. This company was able to set of trials of their new device within Qatar, Israel, and just recently, at Washington DC within the Ronald Reagan National Airport. Although the design of the RF scanner that One Resonance Sensors came up with was originally for airport security purposes, in the future, it could possibly serve as a security checkpoint within stadiums and bus terminals as well.
Researchers and scientists are aware that one piece of technology like the REDS or the RF scanner are not the ‘be all, end all’ solution to IED hazard our troops are faced with, but it most certainly is a step in the right direction. With more time and expertise, the REDS could really be the key tool in detecting IEDs and car bombs as well as further improving security measure within airports.