CBRNE Particles – IED Jammers, Disaster Response Robotics, Soil Remediation

Topics in this issue include smart IED jammers; removing chemical toxins from soil; battlefield emergency management; and robotics for disaster response.

DARPA Robotics Challenge Features Disaster-Response Tasks

Twenty-five human-robot teams from seven countries will compete for $3.5 million in prizes June 5-6 during the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s robotics finals in California. Teams using DARPA’s Atlas robot, developed by Boston Dynamics, met in Waltham, Mass., in January to learn about upgrades to the robot. It was redesigned with the goal of improving power efficiency to better support battery operation. About 75 percent of the robot was rebuilt. Only the lower legs and feet were carried over from the original design. Lighter materials allowed for inclusion of a battery and a new pump system with only a modest increase in overall weight. The upgraded robot is 6-foot-2 inches tall and weighs 345 pounds. DoD News >>

Hanover Cold Regions Lab Tries to Remove Toxic Chemical from Soil

The U.S. Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory sits on soil in Hanover, N.H. that’s been contaminated by a toxic chemical no longer in use. Trichloroethylene, or TCE, was used for years as a coolant at the facility and has leaked into the soil. So the Army Corps of Engineers has come up with a way to treat it – and, they hope, eventually to remove it. VPR >>

JBADS: Hot Air Destroys BioThreats on Military Equipment

A recent U.S. military Joint Capability Technology Demonstration on a C-130 cargo aircraft at Orlando International Airport, Florida, showed how hot, humid air can decontaminate large pieces of equipment from biological agents. The Air Mobility Command-hosted final out-brief and demonstration of the Joint Biological Agent Decontamination System (JBADS) signaled the multi-year project is coming to a close. Global Biodefense >>

Korea Extends Nuclear Cooperation to Qatar

South Korea and Qatar are to cooperate on the training of nuclear experts and on the construction of a research reactor under a memorandum of understanding signed between the two countries yesterday. World Nuclear News >>

Marine Corps Brings Emergency Medicine to the Battlefield

As the Marine Corps reorients toward crisis response missions in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, the service’s Futures Directorate is developing technology that will ensure serious casualties receive life-saving care within an hour of catastrophic injury — no matter how remote the battlefield.

Marine Times >>

Boats, Biometrics and Other Items in the Homeland Security Funding Bill

The measure includes more than $750 million for cybersecurity operations. The Coast Guard received money to buy new boats and aircraft. Customs and Border Protection is funded to test a “biometric exit mobile application” and to maintain at least 95,000 operational flight hours for border surveillance. Defense One >>

German Army to Equip Combat Vehicles with Smart IED Jammers

The German procurement authority (BAAINBw) has awarded the Airbus Defense & Space a contract worth several million euros to supply 36 C-IED vehicular mounted jammers. The systems detect and identify radio signals intended to detonate roadside bombs. After detection and classification, it transmits real-time jamming signals, which precisely match the hostile frequency band, thus interrupting the connection between assassin and bomb. Defense Update >>

The Biosensors of the Future Can Be Drawn on With an Ordinary Ball-Point Pen

The biosensors of the future could come courtesy of a ballpoint pen. Special sensor-outfitted inks may be simply drawn onto skin like an elementary school tattoo, offering capabilities ranging from blood sugar monitoring to the detection of environmental toxins. Such inks are now a real, if experimental thing, courtesy of researchers at the University of California, San Diego. Motherboard >>

Korea Extends Nuclear Cooperation to Qatar

South Korea and Qatar are to cooperate on the training of nuclear experts and on the construction of a research reactor under a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between the two countries this week. Under the agreement, the two countries will conduct a three-year preliminary study to review the feasibility of constructing SMART reactors in Saudi Arabia. The cost of building the first SMART unit in Saudi Arabia is estimated at $1 billion, the agreement states. World Nuclear News >>

Balkan Countries Pledge to Strengthen Co-Operation Against Terrorism

At the Southeast European Co-operation Process (SEECP) summit of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Southeast Europe, held February 24th in Tirana, officials expressed their support for the global coalition against terrorism, and “pledged to strengthen co-operation through appropriate mechanisms with the European and international partners to prevent terrorist acts.” SE Times >>

Stratfor Predicts Loose Nukes in Russia will be ‘The Greatest Crisis of the Next Decade’

Russia is the world’s largest country and its 8,000 weapons are fairly spread out over its 6.6 million square miles. According to a Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists study, Russia has 40 nuclear sites, which is twice as many as the US uses to house a comparable number of warheads. This policy of dispersal makes it difficult for an enemy to disable the Russian nuclear arsenal in a single attack, but it also makes the Russian stockpile difficult to control. Business Insider >>

Counter-IED Specialists to Train Peshmerga

The specialists drawn from across the Army, will be based in the Kurdish capital Erbil. So far more than 1000 Kurdish Peshmerga have completed training and the UK will lead the Coalition’s counter-IED training programme, which is due to start this month. Troops will train Kurdish Peshmergas to use Vallon metal detectors, which were central to counter-IED efforts in Afghanistan. UK MOD >>

Keeping Iraq Unified Will Be Nearly Impossible

When the history of the second Iraq civil war is written, the death of Sheikh Qassem al-Janabi may prove notable for what it said about the rapidly closing window for national reconciliation, and for foreshadowing the ominous turn toward outright sectarianism that the fighting in Iraq has taken. Defense One >>

Using Cosmic Radiation to Peer Inside Fukushima’s Damaged Reactors

A team from the Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) is attempting to actually image the innermost reaches of Fukushima by flanking its reactors with two enormous cosmic ray detectors. If successful, the team will be able to tell cleanup crews where each of the melted down nuclear samples has ended up, and how to best approach one of the worst environmental disasters in recent memory. Los Alamos Report >>

‘Nuclear Power Is Risky and Unprofitable’

The production costs for nuclear energy have increased over the last couple of years. It’s a dramatic development as the costs of all the other technologies, especially renewable energies, are decreasing. Renewable energies are, therefore, now in real competition. Furthermore, power demand in Europe is shrinking, and for operators of nuclear power stations, these are real problems. Deutsche Welle >>

The New Nuclear Age

Russia’s defence budget has grown by over 50% since 2007, and fully a third of it is devoted to nuclear weapons. China, long a nuclear minnow, is adding to its stocks and investing heavily in submarines and mobile missile batteries. Pakistan is amassing dozens of battlefield nukes to make up for its inferiority to India in conventional forces. North Korea is thought to be capable of adding a warhead a year to its stock of around ten, and is working on missiles that can strike the west coast of the United States. Economist >>

DHS S&T Mismanaged Contract to Fight Biothreats, IG Says

The Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) may have wasted $23 million after prematurely cancelling a contract for a biodetection system, according a recent audit by DHS’s Inspector General. HS Today >>

Idaho Ex-Governors Say U.S. Wants State to Be Nuclear Waste Dump

Former Idaho Governors Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt threatened on Thursday to sue the U.S. Energy Department to prevent what they said was its efforts to turn the state into “a nuclear waste dumping ground.” In a letter notifying the Energy Department of a possible lawsuit, the pair accused it of violating a federal environmental law by planning to ship spent nuclear fuel from elsewhere for study at the Idaho National Laboratory, the department’s flagship nuclear research facility. Reuters >>

Drones to Help Assess Post-Disaster Infrastructure Damage

Researchers are developing an operational prototype that will use innovative remote sensing approaches and cameras mounted on low cost aircraft or unmanned drones to detect and map fine scale transportation infrastructure damage such as cracks, deformations, and shifts immediately following natural disasters such as earthquakes, floods and hurricanes. HSNW >>

Strategic Command Hosts ITWAA Conference

Representatives from the Department of Defense and the U.S. Strategic Command reviewed the Integrated Tactical Warning and Attack Assessment (ITWAA) during a Nuclear Enterprise Stakeholder’s Conference. Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, led the forum to allow assessment and recommendations to improve defensive forces including submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, bomber forces and troops. BioPrepWatch >> 

Pakistan Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile in Burgeoning Asia Weapons Race

Pakistan on Monday successfully test-fired a ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear or conventional warheads far beyond the borders of its strategic rival India. The Shaheen-III surface-to-surface missile splashed down in the Arabian Sea after flying 1,720 miles from its launching pad, the military said in a statement. McClatchyDC >>

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