- Mandela service sign language interpreter: ‘He made up his own signs’
- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
- Aaron Hernandez, ex-Patriot, on prison life: ‘I’m way less stressed in jail’
- Man pulled from water believed to be disgraced D.C. cop
- Kabul airport hit by suicide bomber who targeted NATO gate
Tag protects from ‘friendly fire’
A new sensor may provide an all-purpose solution to the vexing and tragic problem of “friendly fire” or “fratricide” — when troops mistakenly fire upon their own in combat.
Based on a decade of research for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, the New Mexico-based Sandia National Laboratories has developed a high-tech electronic “tag” that can be worn by soldiers, affixed to weapons or tucked inside vehicles.
The device emits an enhanced form of radar that can be recognized and tracked by allies, providing a quick battlefield reference for “boots on the ground.”
Dubbed “Athena,” the sensor is ready to go, Sandia researcher Lars Wells said.
“It’s mature enough to consider as a fratricide and situational awareness solution now, and for the long term,” Mr. Wells said Friday.
According to Department of Defense figures, friendly fire historically has accounted for 10 percent to 15 percent of wartime casualties.
In the first seven days of the Iraq war, for example, six soldiers — or 13 percent — of the 45 allied fatalities were casualties of friendly fire. Fourteen troops died under hostile fire in the same period. During Operation Desert Storm, 24 percent of the 146 American combat deaths were caused by friendly fire.
The Athena sensor is no mere radio transmitter. Instead, the device creates a kind of “synthetic radar echo,” the researchers said, but with an added signature. The tag’s echo also includes a small amount of key extra data, which in turn creates a unique, identifying icon on the sweep of a radar screen.
In theory, a pilot overhead or a tank commander on the ground would recognize the blip and simply hold fire.
Prototype models of the Athena are small, ranging in size from a pack of cigarettes to something more along the lines of a kitchen toaster. But they are meant to bring order to the battlefield. Mr. Wells hopes that every soldier eventually will be issued the electronic tag with basic equipment.
“Many times during combat, the military has to pull back from an attack plan because they don’t know who is on the ground,” he said.
Though the sensor may seem something from “Star Trek,” the researchers insist it can be meshed with current systems with no expensive coddling from additional technology.
“By adding tagging to existing radars, we don’t need to build new equipment,” noted Mike Murphy, who also worked on the project.
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Obama hits new poll lows for approval 38 percent
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $10.5 billion loss for taxpayers
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- LAMBRO: The dark lining to the silver cloud of Obamanomics
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Television commentary, reviews, news and nonstop DVR catch-up by Lisa King Dolloff and friends.
Helping the YOUniverse conspire on your behalf.
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow