U.S. more than quadruples its robot order for Iraq

Friday, November 10, 2006

WASHINGTON The U.S. military plans a dramatic expansion in what has been deemed a successful robot operation against improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Officials said the military has has more than quadrupled its order, with a contract for 1,200 robots to detect and neutralize roadside bombs. The robots would be delivered to the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units of every service in the military.

The Waltham, Mass.-based Foster-Miller has received its largest U.S. military order to date for ground robots, Middle East Newsline reported. Executives said the multi-year contract increased from $27.5 million for 250 robots to $124 million for up to 1,200 Talon EOD robots.

Officials and industry sources said the military plans to use the robots for explosive ordnance disposal. They said the robots would enhance detection and disposal of improvised explosive devices in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

A Talon EOD robot on duty in Iraq.
So far, Talon robots have completed more than 50,000 EOD missions. Executives said the Talons have rendered safe thousands of IEDs in Afghanistan and Iraq. The U.S. Navy has managed the EOD robot program, termed the Man Transportable Robotic System program. MTRS has been managed by the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Indian Head, Md. for the air force, army, Marine Corps and navy EOD units around the world.

The Talon lightweight tracked vehicle, deployed since 2000, has been used for explosive ordnance disposal, reconnaissance, communications, sensing, security, defense and rescue. The robot has been described as man-portable, with all-weather, day/night and amphibious capabilities.

Copyright 2006 East West Services, Inc.

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