Army CREW Duke anti IED

Defense IT

US mulls sharing anti-IED tech with Russia for Sochi Olympics

Cellular and radio-frequency jamming technology used to protect U.S. soldiers from improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan could be deployed at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, to help prevent terrorist attacks.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has discussed with his Russian counterpart, Gen. Valery V. Gerasimov, the possibility of sharing sophisticated American counter-IED technology to further safeguard the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Security of the Sochi Games has been a primary concern to both Russian and American officials. The Sochi area is in close proximity to Chechnya and the republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia, where an insurgency has continued for nearly two decades.

The Russian government has deployed tens of thousands of law enforcement officers and military personnel to the area, and has also banned vehicles registered outside of the region. Russian citizens, as well as foreigners, must register within three days of arriving, as reported by the New York Times

In response to Russian interest in American technology for countering improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Dempsey has said that DOD would be willing to provide IED jamming systems designed to detect and disrupt radio or cellphone signals that are used to detonate explosive devices from a distance.

Improvised bombs planted by insurgents have been the leading cause of injury and death to American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, fueling the rapid development of IED detection, jamming and disposal technology.

Jamming devices, also known as Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device Electronic Warfare (CREW) systems, can be mounted in vehicles or individually worn, and provide a zone of protection around the individual or vehicle by jamming potential cellular or radio signals that could potentially be used to set off IEDs.

The CREW Duke, a lightweight, vehicle mounted system, is the most widely deployed counter-IED system used against roadside bombs. To block the signal from reaching the IED, the system utilizes a technique called “set-on” jamming, which reacts to device-specific signals with pre-programmed jamming responses, Wired has reported. As a result, the system can cover a broad range of frequencies.

Despite CREW systems’ utility in neutralizing IEDs, Dempsey has cautioned Russian officials that experts from both countries must work together to determine if American systems can be integrated with Russian communications and security networks.

In the early development of the technology, the American military found that competing systems could cancel each other out. CREW systems can also sometimes lock onto and jam friendly electronic communications frequencies, and cause unmanned aerial vehicles to lose their radio control links due to radio interference by the devices, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

“If you’re not careful, you can actually degrade capability, not enhance it,” Dempsey said.

Although no official decision has been made regarding the sharing of anti-IED technology, Dempsey has stated that the DOD will favorably consider requests from Russian officials. With the Winter Games starting on Feb. 7, officials will have to work quickly to ascertain the feasibility of sharing the technology.    

About the Author

Joey Cheng is an editorial fellow with Defense Systems.

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