Army, Air Force take bomb disposal to new level with lasers
Before, when the military wanted to disable a bomb, highly-trained bomb disposal specialists wore body armor, protective suits or used robots to render an area safe.
Now with lasers, operators can negate the threat of improvised explosive devices, makeshift bombs, mines, and other unexploded explosive ordnance from a safe distance.
The U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center, or AMRDEC, Prototype Integration Facility, or PIF, U.S. Air Force Air Combat Command and the Redstone Test Center developed the technology.
“Building the [Recovery of Airbase Denied by Ordinance, or RADBO] prototype was right in the wheelhouse of what the PIF is set up to do,” said Steven Colvin, PIF project manager. “We were able to assemble a strong team of mechanical, electrical and design engineers to solve the problems, fabricators and integrators to build the prototype and technical writers to document the installation, operation and maintenance of the system.”
“We may see hundreds to thousands of small unexploded ordnance items on a runaway or airfield but the RADBO will allow us to reduce the time it takes to get an airfield operational,” said Marshall “Doc” Dutton, Air Force explosive ordnance disposal modernization program manager of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center on Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida. “Currently, if a runway gets hit it can take days to weeks to get cleared. With the RADBO, runways can be cleared and operational at a much quicker pace.”
RADBO’s laser can detonate bombs up to 300 meters and the Army’s integrated interrogator arm and manipulator claw, which can pull 50 pounds of debris up from cracks and underneath rubble. Infrared cameras, driver vehicle enhanced capabilities and two alternators were installed to provide more than 1,100 amps of power.