In the Star Wars saga electromagnetic grenades are use do disable robots, but the U.S. Army is developing the weapon to disable the electronics on Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The Intense Electromagnetic Pulse (IMP) Grenade will be thrown and launched just like conventional grenades. When it is developed, it may also be made available to local police forces.
One of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command (USASMDC/ARSTRAT) Army SBIR Phase II contractors, TRS Technologies, Inc., has been competitively selected to receive the Army Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Achievement Award for their effort titled “New Ferroelectric Components for Ferroelectric Generators (FEGs) and Capacitive Discharge Units (CDUs).” The technology developed under this Army SBIR is a critical component of the Intense Electromagnetic Pulse (IMP) Grenade being developed for counter improvised explosive device (IED) applications.
The Army Achievement Awards process is extremely competitive. This year, 471 projects were eligible to compete for an award, and only 11 were selected – one from each technology area. They were evaluated based on four criteria: originality and innovation of research; relevance of the research to the Army mission; immediate commercialization potential of the research, reflecting the primary goal of bringing technology and products to the marketplace; and overall quality performance of the project.
In 2009, Loki Incorporated received the same award for their work in 2008 developing the Ferroelectric Generator (FEG), which is a power supply for new type of munitions. The key component of the FEG is a ferroelectric ceramic called PZT 95/5. Because PZT 95/5 is not commercially available, TRS wanted to develop a process for producing PZT 95/5 for FEGs and won a Phase I SBIR to do so. They successfully produced enough PZT 95/5 during their Phase I for USASMDC/ARSTRAT to test FEGs with these new ceramics and to established that the FEGs with PZT 95/5 outperform FEGs with commercially available ceramics.
Dr. Michael Lavan and Dr. Larry Altgilbers of USASMDC/ARSTRAT are the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representatives (COTR) for the winning contract.
Altgilbers said the FEGs with PZT 95/5 are currently being investigated for use in advanced munitions for defeating electronic systems and electro-explosive devices by organizations such as USASMDC/ARSTRAT, the U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), and Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). With all of these organizations expressing interest in its use, the effort is very relevant to the Army mission as well as to other services’ use.
Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) come in many forms including road side, vehicle borne, human borne, and in structures such as rooms. Of the 24 Army Science and Technology (S&T) Challenges, defeating IEDs includes the following three challenges: Force Protection – Soldier and Small Unit, Force Protection – On the Move (Ground), and Overburdened – Physical Burden. In order to meet these challenges, new methods must be developed for defeating IEDs by the individual soldier, while minimizing the collateral damage to humans. For example, methods for clearing rooms of IEDs without harming personnel in the room provided there are no IEDs present need to be developed. One such munitions is High Power Microwave (HPM) grenades. These are non-lethal grenades that generate an electromagnetic pulse that could be used to defeat the electronics used to activate IEDs or that could be used to attack blasting caps. In order to minimize the impact of added mass, training, etc. on the individual soldier, these munitions should fit into existing form factors such as hand or robot delivered munitions, 40 mm grenades, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), and Stinger, Hydra, and Javelin missiles. Since HPM may not be the only approach for defeating IEDs, additional innovative approaches are being sought. These munitions can be explosive or non-explosive driven. This topic aligns with the Fires Center’s concept for Directed Energy employment.
PHASE I: The goal of Phase I is to develop non-lethal munitions for defeating IEDs by the individual soldier. Phase I should include defining the defeat mechanism that is to be used, deterimining the major components of these munitions, and conducting a proof-of-principle experiment in order to validate the technical approach.
PHASE II: The objectives of Phase II are to finalize the design of the counter IED munitions, to build and test prototypes, to verify that these munitions have an effect on a variety of IEDs through testing, and to begin to address issues associated with integrating them into currently fielded form factors such as the 40 mm Grenade, RPG, or Javelin missile. The proposing Firm should also identify any special handling or manufacturing issues that were identified during the prototyping process.
PHASE III: The primary use for these munitions would be military and law enforcement. Since IEDs know no boundaries, we have already seen them in use in the US. Therefore, these same non-lethal munitions would benefit the bomb squads of local, state, and federal law enforcement. One specific application that would be of benefit to both the military and law enforcement is room clearing of IEDs to minimize the threat to our soldiers and law enforcement agents and occupants of the building assuming there was no IED present.