Tags: U.S. | Upgrading | Hardware | Iraq

U.S. Upgrading Hardware in Iraq

Monday, 29 August 2005 12:00 AM

With little fanfare or notice late last month, the DoD announced the emergence of ICE – an acronym for Improvised Explosive Devices Countermeasure Equipment.

Developed by a team of engineers, scientists and soldiers at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, ICE is a black box designed to overpower IEDs – deadly devices like the one that recently destroyed a Marine Corps amphibious assault vehicle, killing 15.

About the size of a breadbox, ICE uses commercial and military technology to defeat IEDs, according to Maj. Raymond D. Pickering, who helped lead the ICE design team at White Sands. The whole thing was conceptualized and fielded in less than six months.

That it "uses commercial and military technology to defeat IEDs" is as good as it gets in prying particulars of the device from its inventors. Obviously, how the new black box detects and neutralizes the enemy's IEDs is highly classified. If it were not, the enemy could potentially develop its own countermeasure to the U.S. countermeasure.

What DoD has revealed is that thousands of ICE systems have been raced to the field and thousands more are on order. According to the slim details, remote control cables can be used from the front seat or passenger side of a Humvee, for instance, to activate the device.

"Normally, it takes years to develop a prototype, test, manufacture and field it. The desire to get a product in the hands of our fighting forces immediately and prevent further casualties overcame the lengthy process," Pickering said.

"Approximately three service members are killed by an IED every day," Pickering added. "We had to get the product into their hands as fast as we could because even one day means something."

With the Pentagon's recent blanket announcement that troops will most likely remain in Iraq for the next four years, there may be plenty of time for other life-saving innovations in military hardware.

On Aug. 3, 2005, 14 Marines and a translator from Ohio's 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, a Reserve unit attached to the Regimental Combat Team-2, were killed by a roadside IED fashioned from artillery shells. They were riding inside their armored amphibious vehicle (AAV).

Immediately, experts emerged to state that the 28-ton, lightly armored amphibious hulk was never intended for inland urban operations, where it is one of the more vulnerable combat vehicles on the battlefield.

Being pushed along in the pipeline, however, is a more advanced AAV, called the Advanced Assault Amphibious Vehicle AAAV.

The AAAV will be capable of transporting 18 Marines and a crew of three over water at speeds of 29 miles an hour. The design uses a hull that planes through the water propelled by two water jets. On land the AAAV will achieve speeds of 45 miles an hour, with cross-country mobility equal to an M1 Abrams tank.

In addition to its high land speed, the new machine has enough ballistic protection to defeat rounds up to 14.5mm or fragments from 155mm artillery shells. It also has improved mine-blast protection and a nuclear, chemical and biological defense system.

Also in the pipeline: a new class of highly mobile light trucks called internally transportable vehicles (ITVs) - small enough to fit into the cargo bay of the CH-53 Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopters.

A current contract calls for General Dynamics to deliver four prototype ITVs to the Marines in 2005 and eight in 2006, enough to equip an infantry battalion. The plan is to arm the ITVs with heavy or medium machine guns and use them to perform raids and reconnaissance patrols.

On yet another hardware front, the Army is upgrading the Abrams, including better protection for the tank's vulnerable rear engine compartment.

Designed during the Cold War with the heaviest armor up front to withstand fire from Soviet tanks, the Abrams has proved vulnerable to insurgents sneaking up from behind with rocket-propelled grenades and setting off mines below.

The Army has revealed that 80 of the 69-ton hulks have been damaged so badly they had to be shipped back to the United States.

New hardware aside, some inevitable detractors suggest that the U.S. is still far behind the veteran Israelis in managing urban combat.

In years of down-and-dirty experience in Gaza and the West Bank, Israel has learned to rely on special armored vehicles designed specifically for the mission of prying out the bad guys with a minimum of collateral damage.

IDF soldiers ride into Palestinian neighborhoods in customized tanks with turrets replaced by armored boxes with bulletproof glass - allowing the drivers to see 360 degrees and to deliver pinpoint firepower.

American tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles have limited vision when buttoned up. Too often, the American commanders must resort to gunships and other indirect fire to blast the enemy – a strategic tool that unfortunately can kill innocent civilians.

If the urban war grinds on, the hardware battle will certainly intensify, perhaps bringing to the U.S. arsenal more tools similar to those used by the Israelis.


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With little fanfare or notice late last month, the DoD announced the emergence of ICE - an acronym for Improvised Explosive Devices Countermeasure Equipment. Developed by a team of engineers, scientists and soldiers at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, ICE is a...
Monday, 29 August 2005 12:00 AM
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