New system would see through clothing to suicide vests, belts

Thursday, July 15, 2004

TEL AVIV Israel's largest non-government-owned defense firm has been developing a system to detect concealed weapons and explosives as part of a project to combat Palestinian suicide bombers.

Elbit Systems has been developing what has been described as a remote detection system meant to expose suicide vests and firearms. The system, developed by Elbit Systems's subsidiary El-Op Electro-Optics, would allow the operator to detect concealed weapons and explosives under the clothes of an operative from what executives termed a safe distance.

Executives said the development project has not been completed, Middle East Newsline reported. They did not provide a date.

"There is a system that can see through clothes for firearms and explosives," Gabriel Sarusi, El-Op's chief scientist, told the Miltech-2004 conference. "El-Op is developing this."

In a presentation at Miltech, Sarusi gave a presentation that showed an electro-optic system scan a person outside a facility from an unspecified distance. The system produced an x-ray type image that showed the scanned individual without clothes but wearing a firearm and suicide belt.

Sarusi said the system was developed as part of the Israeli military's effort against suicide bombers. The El-Op chief scientist envisioned a heightened threat to Israel from insurgents in the short- and medium term.

On June 9, another Elbit System executive provided details of a project to develop a sensor network meant to detect and locate a suicide bomber. The effort was being carried out by a consortium led by Elbit Systems.

At a Tel Aviv University conference, Elbit Systems deputy director-general for homeland security Uri Dobkin said Elbit Systems has been developing sensors that could detect either concealed weapons or an explosive belt. He did not cite the detection range of the proposed system.

"We are talking about a very difficult problem, technologically," Dobkin said. "We are going to establish an integration of sensors. It's not enough to have one or two sensors. The solution depends on a range of sensors."

Executives said the network of sensors would be able to obtain data regarding any individual detected in an urban area. They said the system could be installed in airports, border crossings or major bus and train stations in an effort to reduce security manpower.

Elbit Systems has led a consortium of more than 10 companies that would launch the project, under review by the Industry and Trade Ministry. Dobkin said Elbit plans to conduct research and development of the explosives detection system over the next three years. He said the company hopes to market the sensor network in 2008.

A key technological challenge in the project, executives said, would seek to ensure friend/foe identification. Executives said this would require the training of operators to prevent false alarms over the presence of Israeli soldiers or police officers, all of whom normally carry weapons.

Copyright 2004 East West Services, Inc.

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