08/10/2011 // Washington, DC, USA // sbryen // SDB Partners LLC
A new technology, developed by a small Tucson, Arizona company can help protect helicopters from the Taliban and terrorists. The company is Safety Dynamics, a privately held woman-owned company, that has been building acoustic sensors for homeland security and military applications.
The Taliban and plenty of other terrorists have been taking potshots at our helicopters for some time. Often they use sniper rifles (many of them sophisticated), but a number of helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan have been hit by RPG fire.
“The Russian-designed RPG-7,” says Dr. Stephen Bryen, Chairman of the Board of Advisers of Safety Dynamics and a former senior Defense Department official, “is ubiquitous among terrorist groups. You almost never see a terrorist leave home without one. It is clear we need new technology to protect our helicopters.” Dr. Bryen also serves as CEO of SDB-Partners in Washington DC (http://www.sdb-partners.com)
The RPG-7 is a lethal weapon, and it is thought that an RPG is what hit the Navy SEAL Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan early on Saturday morning, August 6th. The weapon is fired from the shoulder, a rocket shoots out of a tube, and then fires off and sends the grenade toward the target. The range is relatively short and the RPG is a line of sight weapon. Terrorists usually hide behind walls or fire from roof tops; they respond to the sound of the helicopter either arriving or departing, which is when they are most vulnerable.
Safety Dynamics has an intelligent acoustic detection system that for protecting helicopters that can hear through heavy noise and pick out the sound of an RPG launch in a second or less. “A warning alarm and lights pointer tells the pilot of the helicopter where the RPG is coming from and he can immediately take evasive action,” says Sally Fernandez, CEO of Safety Dynamics.
Can the Safety Dynamics sensor hear through the noise of a big chopper. Sally Fernandez believes the answer is yes. “We have tested our system on very noisy vehicles such as main battle tanks and have been able to detect a shooter with a rifle, locate exactly where the shooter was, and move the turret of the tank gun to destroy the threat,” she says.
Safety Dynamics technology is based on special neural networking technology that grew out of academic work at a leading California university. “The technology is solid and proven,” says Dr. Bryen. “I think the helicopter version can be fielded very fast and tested even sooner. If it works it will do a lot to save lives. It will protect our helicopters in Afghanistan and anywhere they are used in combat.”
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