Troops Get New Jammers

One of the few reliable methods the U.S. military has for stopping improvised bombs are radio frequency jammers, which stop the bombs from being remotely triggered.humvee_ice.jpgI've mentioned the jammers -- specifically, the Warlock family of jammers -- a whole bunch of times on the site. But there are others, too. Raytheon, for example, just got another $15.5 million for its IED Countermeasure Equipment ("ICE") systems. If I'm doing the math right -- always a questionable proposition -- that means another 1200-1300 jammers for the troops.Back in April, Copley News Service notes, Lt. Gen. James Mattis told Congress that "the Marines are sending 1,066 of the new devices to Iraq and plan to buy another 2,500. The Army is purchasing 3,000." In August, the Joint IED Defeat Task Force shifted "$48 million to buy 6,246 [ICE] kits," according to Inside the Army."The device is about the size of a large gym bag," the El Paso Times noted in August.

It is a rectangular metal box with switches, fans and connectors on its face and sides. It takes about 15 minutes to install in a vehicle and it runs off the vehicle's power system.... The ICE device can be programmed from a laptop in the field, and it was designed with space inside the chassis for new equipment. The electronics are modular and easily replaced in the field. The simple design also makes it relatively cheap to manufacture.
Really cheap. "At $12,000 each, [ICE] is one-third the price of the Warlock device," Copley notes. Which is one reason so many are being sent into the field.But while the jammers are useful tools, they can't guarantee soldiers and marines' safety. Far from it.In a little more than a month, at least three marine bomb squad members have been killed by IEDs -- a huge loss for a community that's only a few hundred people big. It's safe to assume that all three had some sort of jammer. But the bombs that killed them, I'm told, were triggered by motion-detectors. No radio frequency jammer in the world could have stopped them from going off.
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