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Archive for the ‘EOD’ Category

Eastern National Robot Rodeo Showcases EOD Emerging Capabilities

Saturday, August 21st, 2021


Explosive ordnance disposal and bomb squad experts in the Department of Defense and civilian sector tested the latest EOD robotics and emerging capabilities during the Eastern National Robot Rodeo and Capabilities exercise Aug. 2-6.

The Robot Rodeo, in its fifth year, was back after more than a year-long hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, conducted at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division and town of Indian Head, brought together experienced EOD operators and public safety bomb squads to evaluate EOD capabilities in real-world operating environments and provide real-time feedback to industry partners.

“Everyone – sponsors, vendors and participants – was excited about the 2021 ENRR-CAPEX, especially after having to cancel the 2020 event due to the COVID pandemic,” said Dr. John Olive, deputy director of the Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s EOD Division and Air Force EOD subject matter expert.

The rodeo is extremely important to AFCEC, which is responsible for central procurement of equipment for the Department of the Air Force’s 1,700 Total Force operators at 84 locations around the globe.

“The rodeo showcases technologies under development from various industry vendors and has a direct impact in putting the absolute best tools in the hands of our EOD and public safety bomb squad operators, and international partners,” he said.

While all CE missions are critical to the Department of the Air Force and mission platforms, EOD is perhaps the most dangerous.

“Having these technologies that give our operators the ability to do more standoff investigation, interrogation and mitigation of hazards, keeps our warfighters out of harm’s range and enables them to do things more efficiently,” said Col. John Tryon, AFCEC Detachment 1 commander.

AFCEC in general is always looking to push the envelope and do things smarter and more efficiently, Tryon said, with EOD in particular always being on the cutting edge.

“With new threats it won’t be one or two unexploded ordnance we’ll be dealing with in future, it will be hundreds or thousands of UXOs and we have a limited number of EOD operators. We need technologies that we can leverage, that are force multipliers, so we can achieve the result that we need,” Tryon said.

In addition to the equipment showcase, ENRR included a multi-day, multi-event technical competition to include potential real-world scenarios like a swarm of unmanned aerial systems employing explosive devices, and clearance of a homemade explosive laboratory, while integrating emerging technologies such as advanced radio graphics and multi-shot disruption off from existing robotic platforms.

“Participating multi-agency teams were given one hour to train on new equipment, then given three hours to complete a scenario that challenges that new technology,” Olive said. “Operators provided vendors direct feedback, which shapes future development of that technology in-line with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force’s accelerate change or lose initiative.”

The rodeo directly allows AFCEC to build relationships with industry partners, public safety bomb squads and various other agencies, Olive added, to shape future tech development and “enable us to better support our nine core mission areas for the Air Force EOD program.”

“Getting military and civilian bomb techs together is vital to the overall success of defeating hazardous devices,” said T.J. Brantley, a member of Plano Police Department’s Bomb Squad in Texas. “You get the opportunity to talk about different tactics and procedures other teams are using. Meeting with vendors and getting hands-on training with the latest and greatest technology available helps us do our job safely. Hands down (Robot Rodeo) was one of the best training opportunities I have been to.”

During the event’s distinguished visitor day, Brig. Gen. Bill Kale, director of Air Force Civil Engineers, said he appreciated the opportunity to meet with industry.

“I think it’s very important, as civil engineers, that we stay on the cutting edge of technology,” Kale said. “We need to make sure that whatever we decide to procure, or what we’re looking at, that we can use it or innovate it to improve our readiness.

“We have quite a challenge ahead of us with near peer competition with some of our adversaries and we need to use every tool in our toolkit to make sure we make it challenging for them to even think about trying to come after the United States or our interests,” Kale said.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center’s Readiness Directorate was one of four sponsors for the event, but it was a joint effort with Naval Surface Warfare Center Indian Head Division and the town of Indian Head as hosts, and the United States Bomb Technicians Association as a core partner.

“We very much appreciate the NSWC hosting ENRR and the opportunity to come together with the different vendors that provide the robots, sensors and different technologies that EOD teams can employ now and in the future, and for them to interact with our Air Force and joint partner warfighters,” Tryon said. “Actually getting some stick time and providing direct feedback with the vendors is valuable for them not only on how to adapt their technologies, but also for us being able to see what we want to add to our arsenal going forward.

By Debbie Aragon, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center Public Affairs

USAF EOD Tests New Imaging Technology

Wednesday, August 11th, 2021


Local explosive ordnance disposal units received and were trained on a new and upgraded portable imaging X-ray system at Eglin Air Force Base July 22.

The Vidisco Guardian 12 Digital Radiographic X-ray system enhances EOD’s capabilities by making it easier to view the internal contents of suspicious, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordnance.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center recently delivered the first systems to Hill AFB, Utah and will distribute the remaining systems in conjunction with training events over the next five years. EOD flights from Eglin AFB, Hurlburt Field and Tyndall AFB received the new systems and attended the training.

“The digital X-ray technology will make a world of difference for our EOD forces,” said Tech. Sgt. Quentin Tubbs, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron EOD technician at Dover AFB, Delaware. “It will increase the reliability of capturing clear and concise images and reduce the amount of time we spend next to hazardous devices.”

The Guardian 12 replaces three commercial off-the-shelf systems serving as interim solutions until the new system is fully deployed. This includes a large system weighing over 99 pounds, that primarily serves as base support and requires a wired connection to operate; an X-ray that serves as the wireless mobility system; and a third system that has been obsolete for several years.

“The new system essentially consolidates all the capabilities of previous systems,” said Dave Hodgson, AFCEC EOD logistics lead. “It meets all of the requirements necessary to support the mission.”

Compared to the analog technology of the previous systems, the digital X-ray technology provides a much sharper and clearer image, making it easier to detect explosives such as IEDs or unexploded ordnance, Tubbs said.

Featuring both wired and wireless technology, the new technology combines the capabilities of the off-the-shelf systems currently in use. The wireless capabilities enable remote image capture and can reduce the amount of time Airmen spend going down range, Tubbs said.

“With the older systems, every time we took an image, we had to go downrange and retrieve a panel, bring it back and run it through a machine to verify if the X-ray worked. Many times, we thought a good image was captured only to realize later there was something dense in the way blocking the image.”

The new digital radiographic X-ray system also includes features to improve resiliency. It is lightweight, weighing less than 22 pounds and housed in a compact carrying case for easy mobilization for fly-away missions. The system is also designed to work in extreme temperatures, ranging from minus 14 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

Obtaining the new systems was a collaborative effort between AFCEC and the Air Force Installation Contracting Center’s 772nd Enterprise Sourcing Squadron—both part of the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center enterprise. The $30 million acquisition will put 331 new systems in the hands of EOD Airmen by 2026.

“We’re committed to ensuring our EOD forces have the training, equipment and resources required to accomplish their duties in garrison and downrange,” Hodgson said. “The new systems will allow Airmen to conduct missions safely, rapidly and effectively.”

Story by Emily Mifsud

Photos by Samuel King Jr

Si Hannaford Runs 13-Minute Mile in NP Aerospace Bomb Suit During Ultra-Triathlon

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

WO2 Si Hannaford, Bomb Disposal Operator for the British Army, has run an impressive 13-minute mile in an NP Aerospace Bomb Suit – 13 days into a 26-day, 1,777 mile £100k ultra-triathlon fundraiser for the Felix Fund and the Hummingbird Centre.

Si ran the mile in the 35kg fully operational and unmodified NIJ certified 4030 ELITE Bomb suit on Sunday 13th June in John O’Groats, Scotland. The run was in preparation for an attempt to beat the fastest mile in bomb suit world record later in the Autumn of 7-minutes 24-seconds which was set by a British Army Solider in 2017.

Facing challenging terrain and exhaustion after cycling 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats and swimming 21 miles (the length of the English Channel) he wasn’t put off by the task. He managed to run an impressive 13 minutes 8 seconds over challenging terrain on the hottest weekend of the year.

The mile marked the start of the last leg of Si’s journey – a 756 mile run back to his home town of Bicester where his wife and four children aged from three to 16 years will be waiting for his return.

Glynn Jones, NP Aerospace Product Manager, who was there to witness the challenge, said: “As we watched the triathlon unfold on social media, we became aware of the extent of the challenge we had set Si. We were unsure whether it would even be possible to complete a mile in a bomb suit let alone achieve a fast time. However, his determination and energy was clear to see from the start and it was an honour to be there and cheer him on.”

Simon Hannaford said: “It was a brave move to commit to the challenge with everything else going on but I did it for the charities and their efforts to support veterans and people suffering with cancer. I wasn’t sure how it would go but I am so glad I did it! I am looking forward to attempting to beat the fastest mile record in the NP Aerospace Bomb Suit when I am recovered and back on flat ground.”

James Kempston, CEO of NP Aerospace, said: “Outstanding result and dedication in the middle of a charitable cause. From the start, Si said the least he could do was suffer for 26 days to support charities who help people who are suffering for much longer. After a grueling swim and a 1000+ mile bike ride he decided to continue with his plan to run a mile in a bomb suit before running a further 756 miles. Most would have given up but Si’s tenacity and motivation are clearly world class and we are thrilled and proud to have been supporting him and raising awareness for his cause. We are also excited to support him in beating the fastest mile in a bomb suit world record later in the Autumn.”

Michelle Hannaford, wife of Si Hannaford, said: “When Si says he is going to do something it always gets done. Whether it’s running a mile in a bomb suit during a triathlon or mowing the lawn! He was determined to do this challenge for the charities involved as what they stand for is very close to home, with his mother and friend being diagnosed with cancer. It’s also been good for his mental health doing something valuable for the community. He’s done an amazing job and the family can’t wait to have him home.”

Si Hannaford is running, cycling and swimming 1777 miles in 26 days to raise £100,000 for charities, the Felix Fund and the Hummingbird Centre. The challenge started in Portsmouth on 1st June and will end in Bicester on 26th June. The Felix Fund provide welfare and financial support to military and police personnel working in bomb disposal and search. The Hummingbird Centre is a cancer support center based in Launton, near his home town of Bicester.

Si is urging people to sign-up and follow his YouTube channel – he needs 1000 followers so he can broadcast it live from his mobile phone.

To sign-up to Si’s YouTube page view www.youtube.com/c/SiHannaford

To sponsor Si view uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SiHannaford/1 Or www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simonhannaford 

NP Aerospace Awarded NIJ Certification for New Bomb Disposal Suit

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

NP Aerospace has announced that its new 4030 ELITE Bomb Disposal Suit has been certified to NIJ 0117.01, the US National Institute of Justice Public Safety Bomb Suit standard, by the Safety Equipment Institute.

The official report was received this week after an intensive 18 month development and testing program – opening up opportunities to sell the suit in the US and other global markets requiring NIJ certification. NP Aerospace is one of only two manufacturers in the world to have been awarded this level of certification on a bomb disposal suit.

James Kempston, CEO, NP Aerospace: “NP Aerospace Bomb Disposal Suits are world leading in blast mitigation, survivability and overall comfort and ergonomics. Adding NIJ certification to an already world leading product is a significant accolade for our business and our overall EOD product line. As a global armor manufacturer with over 40 years’ experience in ballistic protection we are well versed in complex testing programs, however reaching this milestone in just 18 months is a major achievement. Users who require NIJ certified Bomb Disposal Suits now have the choice for a highly comfortable, ergonomic option with best in class survivability.”

The 4030 ELITE suit is now part of several program tenders – attracting significant interest from defense and law enforcement organizations. Users at recent US EOD events have commented on the suit’s flexibility and fit at a low weight, advanced blast protection and ability to configure the base suit with a wide range of accessories. Communications, cooling and CBRN systems can be easily added to the suit without costly system upgrades.

EOD and Tactical Search suits are part of the NP Aerospace high-performance defense systems range which includes Ballistic Helmets, Shields, Body Armor Plates and Composite Armor for vehicles, vessels or aircraft.


NP Aerospace Sets UK Challenge to Run Fastest Mile in a Bomb Suit

Friday, May 28th, 2021

Si Hannaford will be attempting to run the fastest mile in a bomb suit as he sets off on his 756 mile run from John O’Groats to Bicester as part of a 26 day triathlon.

NP Aerospace has challenged WO2 Si Hannaford, Bomb Disposal Operator for the British Army, to run the fastest mile in its new Bomb Suit during his Tri26 triathlon charity challenge.

Si Hannaford will be running, cycling and swimming 1777 miles in 26 days to raise £100,000 for charities, the Felix Fund and the Hummingbird Centre, starting in Portsmouth on 1st June and ending in Bicester on 26th June.

06:00, 12 June, John O’Groats, Scotland
On 12th June he will run the first of 756 miles in a 4030 ELITE Bomb Disposal Suit – weighing 35.8kg – in an attempt to beat the fastest mile in a bomb disposal suit record of 7-minutes 24-seconds which was set by a British Army Soldier in 2017.

Si, who has served in the British Army for 10 years and has done tours of Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, was keen to take on the challenge to support the charities for which he has a strong connection. The Felix Fund provide welfare and financial support to military and police personnel working in bomb disposal and search. The Hummingbird Centre is a cancer support center based in Launton, near his home town of Bicester.

Simon Hannaford, the hero of the day, commented: “My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer two years ago, so this cause is extremely important to me. I feel that I can suffer 26 days to help people who may be suffering their whole lives. It’s great to have the support of NP Aerospace. I have worn their bomb suits on operation for many years so I am keen to put the new suit to the test. It will be a gruelling challenge but worth every hour of training.”

James Kempston, CEO of NP Aerospace, said: “Si Hannaford’s courage and tenacity are undoubtedly essential to the success of a challenge like this and we are committed to supporting him every step of the way. Running the fastest mile in a bomb suit is extremely tough in normal circumstances let alone during a 26 day triathlon! As supporters of Felix Fund and other charity causes we are keen to lend our support. It will be great to see how 4030 ELITE suit stands up to the fastest mile challenge.”

Si is urging people to sign-up and follow his YouTube channel- he needs 1000 followers so he can broadcast it live from his mobile phone.

The Tri26 challenge is to swim 21miles – the length of the English channel – then cycle 1000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats and finally run 756 miles from John O’Groats back to Bicester. The first mile of the run will be wearing the NP Aerospace 4030 ELITE Bomb Suit.

To sign-up to Si’s YouTube page view www.youtube.com/c/SiHannaford

To sponsor Si view uk.virginmoneygiving.com/SiHannaford/1 Or www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simonhannaford

52nd EOD Takes Lead in Testing Army’s Newest Bomb Suit

Wednesday, May 12th, 2021

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – Explosive Ordnance Disposal, or EOD, Soldiers put their lives on the line whenever they are called into action, and their protective equipment can mean the difference between life and death.

Fort Campbell’s 52nd EOD is playing a major role in pushing that equipment forward as the first unit to test the Next Generation Advanced Bomb Suit, or NGABS, the latest development in Army bomb suit technology.

“We got a lot of receptive feedback from the Soldiers, and they were very thorough,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jeremy Jordan, 184th Ordnance Battalion, 52nd EOD. “

“They understand it’s the next generation of bomb suit that we’re going to be using … (and) we can make sure we have a good suit that’s fielded to us, and in turn support the Army and local authorities through our mission,” he said.

Initial NGABS fielding is expected around the second quarter of 2023, said Maj. Justin Bond, assistant product manager, Soldier Protective Equipment, Program Executive Office Soldier. 52nd EOD has completed multiple human factors evaluations meant to provide feedback and help improve the suit’s design in the meantime, most recently April 5-19.

“We need EOD technicians to assess this capability, and the 52nd EOD group at Fort Campbell offers that,” Bond said. “They were willing and ready to provide the necessary Soldiers to help us evaluate the capability, and the availability of resources at the 52nd EOD was also helpful in facilitating the event.”

The NGABS provides increased mobility, 360-degree ballistic protection, weight reductions and a modular sensor suite that provides low light and thermal capability. All of these are improvements when compared to the existing advanced bomb suit, or ABS. Through human factors evaluation, or HFE, 52nd EOD evaluated the improvements through a series of operationally relevant training exercises.

“The engineers who are designing this suit are actually listening to our feedback and care about what we have to say,” said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Thom, 717th Ordnance Company, 184th Ordnance Battalion, 52nd EOD. “During the first round, there were a lot of negatives about the suit that they changed for the better, and I think it just needs a few more tweaks in the design, comfort and mobility.”

Thom said the suit’s mobility in certain areas and the addition of ballistic protection stood out as strong points, but he recommends improvements to its fitting and sensor systems.

“On a personal level, this is something I feel that I can contribute to fostering the career field and the equipment the guys that are following me will be able to use,” he said. “If I can help them get better equipment, that’s a huge part of what being EOD is – not just to protect myself, but to leave some-thing to protect future EOD techs.”

Fort Campbell also brought in Soldiers from other installations to effectively test how the NGABS functions for women because 52nd EOD is predominantly male.

“This has been a huge opportunity,” said Staff Sgt. Dione Brown, 55th Ordnance Company EOD, Fort Belvoir, Virginia. “Giving valuable input to a system that’s probably still going to be used 10 years down the line by techs that follow behind me is a big deal, and I feel very fortunate to be part of the process.”

Brown said the NGABS is a marked improvement over the ABS and could save time across the Army once it is fielded to active-duty Soldiers.

“The mobility, range of motion and the modular system are huge improvements over the suit we have right now,” she said. “The biggest thing is the range of motion – allowing us to do a job quickly with little impediment to our movement means we’ll be able to neutralize our target faster, get in and get out.”

Bond said the HFE was a success and provided PEO Soldier with valuable input on the suit’s strengths and weaknesses.

“These are EOD technicians, so it’s very important that we have the actual user’s feedback as we’re developing this capability,” he said. “We’ll take that feedback and make necessary design changes prior to the next HFE.”

Jordan said 52nd EOD is expected to conduct another HFE this fall, and the Soldiers look forward to helping make the NGABS the best it can be.

“I’ve been in the Army for 18 years, so I probably won’t see this suit fielded until right as I’m getting out,” he said. “But it feels good to do my part in helping it come together. And all the Soldiers, whether they know it or not, they’re helping to shape the future of EOD.”

By Ethan Steinquest, Fort Campbell Courier

Sean Matson Will Attempt To Break Men’s 1 mile Bomb-Suit World Record

Thursday, March 18th, 2021

On 3 April 2021, I am setting out to break the men’s 1 mile Bomb-Suit World Record! The current record has been held by Mark Gibbs of the UK at a blistering fast time of 7:24.21. He has held this record since 2017.

In 2019, I attempted to break this record; however, wasn’t successful. Before the event, I “Planned my dive”, but when the race gun went off, I took off in a sprint and completely forgot all about my plan that I have “dove” in my head a thousand times. “Plan your dive, dive your plan”. My pace at the 1/2 mile was around 6 mins and my heart rate pegged and I was about to pass out, so I had to walk. Very humbling experience and also a HUGE lesson learned.

This year, I will have a pacer and training has been going extremely well. We are raising money for Get Head Strong and with proceeds from every purchase of the #TeamSean shirt will go directly to Get Head Strong.

Show support by purchasing his shirt with the discount code “SEAN“. www.militarymuscleinc.com/collections/military-families-program/products/military-families-program-team-sean-tee

US Army EOD Soldiers Collaborate with Kosovan Demining School

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

CAMP BONDSTEEL, Kosovo — The 702nd Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company, assigned to the explosive ordnance team for Regional Command-East, Kosovo Force, traveled to Dakovica to witness the Mine Action Training Kosovo school conduct their range day qualifications.

MAT Kosovo is a humanitarian demining school which trains its student in different levels of EOD certification. The course covers many techniques concerning unexploded ordnance (UXO) identification and removal as well as methods of disposal. MAT Kosovo also works closely with the Kosovo Security Force EOD team to complete training and focus on demining efforts.

“MAT Kosovo is a phenomenal opportunity to take advantage of when it comes to training with the KSF and promoting the humanitarian demining efforts in Kosovo,” said 1st Lt. Taylor Firn, platoon leader with the 702nd. “MAT Kosovo originated here to restore freedom of movement in Kosovo.”

As the KFOR and KSF EOD teams observed, the MAT Kosovo students qualified and demonstrated their abilities by using low-order techniques to dismantle an unexploded ordnance. They used different small explosives to render simulated UXOs ineffective. Low-order methods are designed to slowly burn off high-explosives and prevent a UXO from detonating to its full potential, said Firn.

By the end, the students were qualified in level three EOD operations.

“High-order is when the explosive functions how it’s meant to function,” said Doug York, the general manager for MAT Kosovo. “Low-order is where you’re trying to dispose of the ordnance without it functioning. We use explosives to initiate deflagration within the ordnance to burn all the explosives on the inside.”

Firn has made it a priority for his EOD team to reach out and forge relationships with institutions in Kosovo that play a key role in maintaining peace and stability in the region.

“We appreciate our friendship with American forces,” said York. “It’s important to us to build on it and continue to do cross-training to keep the flow of information between EOD teams active.”

Military EOD teams and civilian organizations like MAT Kosovo routinely enter high-risk situations to remove UXO and dispose of it in a safe manner. Their coordinated efforts help ensure freedom of movement as well as a safe and secure environment for the people of Kosovo.

“It’s always fun to get out and watch explosions,” said Firn, “but my favorite thing was getting face time and furthering that link between the KSF and MAT Kosovo. That’s our real mission here in KFOR.”

Story by Jonathan Perdelwitz

Photos by SGT Jonathan Perdelwitz