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A New X-Ray Bomb Sniffer

Its dangerous work searching vehicles at a TCP, or traffic control point, in Iraq. Any one of those pickups, taxi cabs or dump trucks passing through could hide thousands of pounds of explosives and a sweat-soaked suicide bomber itching for a run at some heavenly virgins.AS&E-ZBV-web.jpg

Forcing the occupants to exit the vehicle, searching under every seat and in every nook and cranny can be extremely hazardous to your health, to say the least. But one tool the troops are using in the sandbox is helping keep the danger at bay in busy checkpoints.

Backscatter x-ray machines have proven vital in the battle against VBIDs. But the panel truck-sized vehicles are large, conspicuous, meaty targets for insurgent RPGs. So American Science and Engineering, Inc. passed along a release to Defense Tech that could offer a much more elegant solution to the backscatter capability needed in austere environments abroad.

AS&E writes:

American Science and Engineering's ZBV Military Trailer(TM) is a rugged X-ray screening system built onto a standard military trailer. With one-sided, Backscatter imaging, security officials can use ZBV Mil Trailer for screening vehicles, containers, and other cargo for terrorist threats and contraband simply by towing the trailer past the subjects, or by remaining stationary while vehicles drive past the trailer. The ZBV Mil Trailer employs AS&E's patented Z Backscatter(TM) technology, which produces photo-like images of the contents of a container or vehicle, highlighting organic materials such as explosives. Development of the ZBV Military Trailer was supported by a November 2006 R&D contract for $2.2 Million to deliver a ruggedized ZBV for the U.S. Government. The ZBV Mil Trailer is ideal for screening vehicles for car and truck bombs.

ZBV Mil Trailer also includes Forwardscatter technology to complement Z Backscatter imaging. Forwardscatter presents a second scatter perspective that displays dense objects in cargo, such as the shielding found around nuclear WMD. With ZBV Mil Trailer in stationary scan mode, Forwardscatter detectors are positioned opposite the X-ray source in the trailer. The Forwardscatter image is displayed simultaneously with the Z Backscatter image, providing the operator with more information on the contents of a scanned vehicle.

I know from my experience in Ramadi that these trucks are a lifesaver. But theyre expensive, obtrusive and only optimized for high flow areas...there was only one of them for the entire capital city of al Anbar. With this sleeker solution, troops might be able to position this capability at many more checkpoints, leaving insurgent bombers few avenues to deliver their vehicle borne devastation.

-- Christian

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