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    On Location: CBRN systems are being adapted to go more places with the warfighter.

    On Location: CBRN systems are being adapted to go more places with the warfighter.

    Courtesy Photo | AERS platform UTV with CBRN-mounted sensor and communications equipment. The lighter,...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Defense Threat Reduction Agency's Chemical and Biological Technologies Department

    An effective defense, especially in foreign or “forward deployed” and harsh or “austere” locations, requires a CBRN integrated early warning technology platform that is light, lean, and adaptable to different objectives. The Air Force Emergency Management community calls one such “system of systems”—a collection of tools—the Austere Environment Reconnaissance and Surveillance (AERS) platform. Having this system be faster, lighter, more maneuverable, and capable of holding myriad, effective detection tools to analyze and combat CBRN threats while enabling real-time data communications displayed on tablets in a common operating picture gives the warfighter a significant edge over the current capability.

    The Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Chemical and Biological Technologies Department in its role as the Joint Science and Technology Office in coordination with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency’s Nuclear Technologies Department recently conducted the United States Air Force (USAF) CBRN Reconnaissance and Surveillance Field Demonstration at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

    This Advanced Technology Demonstration (ATD) is part of the Integrated Early Warning campaign to develop advanced threat detection, understanding, and communication of CBRN defense capabilities. Like previous demonstrations for multi-service applications, such as the Perceptive Dragon series of exercises, this ATD showcased USAF Emergency Management personnel using remote chemical and radiological sensors along with handheld and wearable sensors, all integrated into a common architecture on the AERS platform Utility Task Vehicle (UTV). Much of this collection of tools can be used for all types of CBRN threats.

    The ongoing adverse impacts of the coronavirus pandemic inspired an innovative alternative to the standard live ATD event with large crowds. For the two-week event, a small, controlled group of Air Force participants and key support personnel trained with and then operated the developmental technologies and were recorded in extensive video footage that will be distributed to key stakeholders to help shape future development.

    Airmen demonstrated chemical and radiological sensors mounted on a Nibbler drone—a small Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), an Unmanned Ground Vehicle, and the AERS platform vehicle while using handheld sensors and wearing Physiological Status Monitors with a Heads Up Display in realistic and operationally relevant scenarios. The integrated sensors provided real-time data sharing and data display that significantly improved timeliness and accuracy in gathering detection and identification data compared to current procedures. The traditional USAF CBRN capability package is called a “Whisky Lima” that includes 22 to 32 airmen with materials and equipment that weigh about 6,600 pounds. The smaller AERS platform capability requires only four airmen and weighs about 2,300 pounds—a significant reduction in required manpower and a 65 percent decrease in weight. The two mostly differ in that the Whisky Lima is a main operating base capability while the AERS is for a forward deployed, austere environment. C-130 transports and Osprey V-22 vertical-takeoff-and-landing aircraft can easily move the AERS platform capability to these areas.

    At the tactical team level, this technology can:
    1. Inform whether the team can safely access a location for interrogation using modeling to see where contamination clouds or regions are and how to best approach the hazardous area;
    2. Help determine what types of capabilities need to be deployed to best understand the hazards in that environment;
    3. Show which areas are of concern and which are not; and
    4. Pinpoint the hazards, freeing up other areas for maneuver and operations.

    At higher levels in the chain of command, this technology can be used to make operational decisions such as:
    1. How to restore combat power once the hazards in that environment are known;
    2. What type of protective posture personnel need to use to safely mitigate the risk; and
    3. How to minimize the risk to the warfighter while maximizing the team’s ability to complete the primary mission.

    Ultimately, the ATD demonstrated the AERS could enable timely, well-informed decision-making to maintain mission effectiveness in a contaminated environment and reduce casualties. The airmen also identified some areas where tweaking the capabilities could improve the operational use of the AERS platform:
    1. Use lighter but still strong materials to reduce weight while maintaining performance;
    2. Adjust the locations of some of the system's hardware to accommodate individual protective ensemble gear; and
    3. Improve the usability of the system’s capabilities on handheld devices by optimizing the graphical user interface.

    Through their participation and feedback during the demonstration, the airmen validated the utility of the AERS platform’s capabilities. These integrated technologies successfully demonstrated the possibility of providing a versatile and transportable chemical and radiological detection and analysis capability that significantly improves upon current means of CBRN reconnaissance and surveillance. Ultimately, these integrated early warning capabilities will help provide the foundation for USAF know-how to meet future chemical and radiological threats on tomorrow’s battlefield.

    POC: Christopher High,



    Date Taken: 03.31.2021
    Date Posted: 03.31.2021 18:48
    Story ID: 392779
    Location: FORT BELVOIR, VA, US 

    Web Views: 1,243
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