Military Review

The walls have eyes


Systems capable of detecting enemy combatants through walls could revolutionize many aspects of urban operations, but is this technology mature enough to be deployed? Let us consider in more detail the state of affairs in this area.

In an effort to maintain tactical superiority over the enemy in often crowded urban spaces, armies want the next generation of technology that can increase situational awareness and, therefore, combat mission efficiency.

Solutions here range from programmable communications and combat control technologies to brightening imaging systems and infrared devices that provide end-users with the means to locate and locate their own and enemy forces, as well as civilians.

However, the market is increasingly interested in one of the most promising, rapidly developing areas - technology of seeing objects through walls (STTW, sense-through-the-wall), which is currently being studied by special forces and melee units in Europe and the United States. ...

Indeed, this special segment of the soldier's situational awareness market promises to open up a range of new combat principles and tactics, techniques and methods of warfare to small teams performing special and reconnaissance missions in urban areas around the world.

In search of transparency

A spokesman for the British Army's Infantry Education and Training Administration called the emergence of STTW technology "an impressive prospect for melee units, which are currently forced to rethink their actions against a rapidly adapting enemy in various combat scenarios."

Noting that STTW technology has entered the domain of the British Army to develop the concept of a “2025/XNUMX integrated digital soldier” (with a readiness date no earlier than XNUMX), he confirmed that his Office wants to acquire one of the STTW solutions in order to explore a number of new principles combat use and tactics to provide shared situational awareness on the battlefield.

Without going into specific details about the procurement and the start of the assessment program, he said the Office will work with the Special Operations Forces to identify “new concepts that reduce the cognitive burden on dismounted soldiers” and to improve decision-making and overall operational pictures.

STTW technology could be used in the tasks of terrain exploration, information gathering and cleaning of buildings and fenced areas

Several STTW devices are currently available to the military, ranging from lightweight handheld models to large tripod-mounted sensors that are hardly suitable for MTR and melee units operating in challenging urban environments.

In general, STTW technology is very useful for assault teams, which must identify biological creatures through walls and doors before entering. Compared to the traditional blast-clearing method, the new capabilities allow commanders to make an accurate entry / exit decision, minimizing consequential losses.

STTW technology is not yet massively deployed in the troops, but its widespread use can significantly change the principles of combat use and tactics of units that receive missions to enter closed territories, buildings, premises and tunnels in conditions where the enemy often uses civilians as living shield.

Reliable detection

The largest STTW technology program to date is a US Army project aimed at providing a solution that can improve the decision-making ability of soldiers at the lowest tactical level.

In January of this year, the Army issued a request for information indicating that the development of STTW technology is being carried out in support of the Special Products and Prototyping Division (SPD), which is its structural division. The request, drawn up in cooperation with the US Army MTR, asks for information on "advanced portable systems that allow a soldier to detect, identify and track people, animals and material behind multi-layer obstacles at a great distance out of reach of weapons."

The published document stipulates that the sensory system should also "be able to map structures under investigation and detect secret rooms, passages, niches, caches, etc., including underground elements."

Further in the document it is said:
“The DSPP and the MTR, in particular, want to get a system that will be able to track, determine the location, highlight and count people and animals in buildings and structures. It must quickly recognize friends and foes, determine the form of activity, for example, standing or sitting, walking or lying, and provide positive identification of a living object by biometric data. "

Additional requirements provide for the creation of the same hand-held device that could just as reliably identify secret passages and rooms in the structure in order to ensure its clearing, usually performed by an assault team.

Iceni's SafeScan Tactical is evaluated by European CCOs to meet their STTW needs

As explained by a source in the MTR, such a device was very useful during a sweep carried out on October 26 last year as part of Operation Kayla Mueller, when American special forces stormed a rural settlement near the Syrian city of Idlib with the aim of capturing or eliminating the IS leader (prohibited in Russia) Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

The US Army and its MTR also need any mature STTW technology that can perform a full-scale assessment of a building or fenced area, providing data to build a XNUMXD map of the target area using "other signals and sensors" for multivariate analysis that can be used to plan a task or parsing the results of the task.

Finally, the request for information states that the STTW decision should also identify and classify stretch marks, improvised explosive devices, weapon and various types of ammunition besides “other traps”. For example, a similar spectrum of threats was faced by French special forces, which conducted operations to clear the Iraqi city of Mosul in 2016 as part of a broader ground offensive aimed at re-freeing the territory from IS.

During the operation, the French military needed to collect intelligence information behind the line of advance of the Iraqi MTR; small groups were tasked with guarding and clearing tunnel networks and conducting ISIS tactics for reconnaissance, allowing militants to easily avoid the path of advance of French troops, organize ambushes and set booby-traps. For example, in October 2016, two French commandos were injured by a mine planted in a drone that was deliberately left by IS militants near the city of Erbil.

New technology

There are not so many devices with STTW technology available today, one of them was recently presented by the American company Lumineye. The Lux device she developed was first shown at the annual AUSA show in Washington in October 2019.

The 680-gram device can simultaneously detect up to three biological objects indoors using the built-in ultra-wideband radar, according to a Lumineye spokesman. He also named several possible uses for the device, including reconnaissance before making passageways in urban areas, combating human trafficking, detecting false walls and secret rooms, and conducting surveillance through tinted windows.

The device with a maximum line-of-sight range of 15 meters "in free space" has a user interface that shows, depending on customer requirements, the range and direction to the target in one-dimensional and two-dimensional format.

Iceni Labs, also an STTW company, has developed the SafeScan Tactical to meet the needs of European and US end users.

Commercial Director Alex Gile noted that end users are actively exploring and “trying on” new principles of combat use and combat tactics in order to maximize the operational efficiency of STTW devices in the future. He explained:

“Until now, the development of a suitable STTW handheld device to support special forces and close combat units has been constrained by various factors including size, weight and power consumption. Currently, small groups of MTRs to identify military personnel and civilians in urban environments use image intensification devices and infrared systems of various types with different weight and size and power consumption characteristics. "

However, the ability of these devices and systems to provide operators with accurate information about objects outside walls and other physical objects remains limited.

STTW handheld devices, including the Camero Xaver 100 (pictured), can be used by assault teams to identify biological objects indoors

“The alternatives include the use of ultra-wideband radar technology, although the solutions on the market today are too cumbersome and imprecise for tactical deployment. Currently, military personnel from several units are being trained to work with the SafeScan Tactical stenovisor, they should better understand its capabilities, confidently collect information with its help and exchange it with the allied forces ",

- he continued.

The SafeScan Tactical 260 gram handheld device was designed to detect object movement and / or respiratory rate at a maximum line-of-sight distance of 18 meters and a shortened distance of 7 meters through standard fire doors and internal partitions.

“Special forces use this technology to clear buildings and fenced areas, and forward battle groups gathering near a door or entry point before an assault use this device with great pleasure. We see that the device with a 100% probability determines whether the room is occupied or not, it also determines the direction, distance and the number of people in the room. Obviously, this is of great importance when the assault team chooses the direction of entering the premises, ”

- added Gils.

During testing, users typically hold the device in front of the door for 20-30 seconds and then rotate it in opposite directions in order to obtain an image with an increased viewing angle.

“We also found out that the presence of a certain number of cinder blocks and metal parts inside a wall or door may be the reason for the discrepancy in the data obtained. But this only means that users understand the limitations of the device and then adapt to the situation. "

Obviously, end users want to speed up the process, ”Gils said, noting that special forces could take STTW devices for operations“ today ”if they were structurally more durable.

Niche market?

Ilan Abramovich, vice president of the Israeli company Camero, believes that STTW technology is still considered a niche product in most armies in the world.

“We see certain needs of some armies for this technology, but there are not so many of them. For the most part, STTW technology is still evolving, ”he explained, suggesting that the US Army's STTW information request described above is too radical in its demands.

“The need for STTW devices was identified during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, when the US planned program was canceled in 2010. The demand at that time was more than 10 thousand systems. Today it is already just an urgent need, especially considering what we call the "disappearing enemy" - when enemy fighters appear from behind cover for just a couple of seconds, which implies very fast search and location. "

Camero's STTW product line includes the Xaver 100 handheld wall imager, which uses ultra-wideband radar technology operating in the 3-10 GHz range.

“The enemy may not even suspect that you have our systems with STTW technology and, being in a fenced area or in a building, will not wait to be detected through walls and doors. This technology is great for detecting people. "

- added Abramovich, calling it the most popular in counter-terrorism and hostage rescue operations.

System systems

Looking to further enhance the capabilities of STTW technology, end users also want to use these devices within a broader system of systems versus baseline approach, although this has yet to be explored in an operational context.

One promising avenue here is leveraging the ability of STTW technology to generate a 3D map of the target building (possibly in tandem with other sensors to produce more detailed images), which can then be uploaded to the command and control network for wider distribution on the battlefield. It could be viewed through the Android Tactical Assault Kit, which is already supplied to the US Special Operations Command and is being evaluated by the US Army.

A similar requirement is specified by the army in the STTW information request:

"All data should be displayed on the wireless tablet display using avatars / icons or cursor on the target in order to better understand the sensory data."

Xaver STTW devices can be accessed remotely using the Camero Xavernet C2

STTW technology can be integrated with artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms to "improve the quality of target recognition", which will speed up the processing, learning and distribution of intelligence information and, accordingly, improve decision making by end users.

In the short term, STTW devices can also be integrated into autonomous platforms, for example, UAVs and ground mobile robots (HMP). Iceni's SafeScan Tactical can be installed aboard small “cast” robots, Gils said, allowing users to apply the technology from a distance (up to 30 meters from the target building). “From the point of view of the masses, there are absolutely no obstacles to this. But the tilt angles of STTW-equipped HMPs operating at ground level can be a problem. ”

The use of such tactics would allow assault teams to safely identify individuals in buildings prior to the “call-up,” which is typically used by special forces to force the enemy to surrender and quietly exit the building or fenced area. This technique, used during Operation Kayla Mueller, eliminates the unsafe procedure for the assault team to break through fences and walls and conduct risky sweeping of premises in order to capture or neutralize enemy soldiers.

Camero is studying these principles of combat use for STTW sensors installed on the HMP.

“We demonstrated the capabilities of STTW on a robot by securing the system to a manipulator arm and allowing HMP to approach the target and begin the detection process. The only question is whether the end consumers will want to have these opportunities or not, ”

- noted on this occasion Abramovich.

“In recent exhibitions, we discussed the concept with many HMP manufacturers to show them that STTW is just another sensor that can be installed on their robots. Everyone is promoting this idea, but there is still no really major program to support these capabilities, although I know that this technology works in some departments. "

- he added.

In addition, Camero has studied the UAV's ability to deliver STTW devices to the roof. Abramovich noted that any drone with a payload of several kilograms can complete this task, but this specific combat use is still at the development stage.

The Xavernet device developed by the same Camero company based on the Toughbook laptop, which allows simultaneous control of up to four STTW systems, has good prospects. "Several different STTW systems can provide more reliable information, but Xavernet is not yet capable of stitching together different streams of information into a common operational picture."

Ripening process

With the development and refinement of STTW technology, its usefulness in the modern and probably future combat space is increasingly being confirmed in practice, although a wider deployment in the MTR and conventional units will entirely depend on its cost.

However, there is still a lot of work to be done in order to successfully integrate STTW technology into advanced doctrines, operational principles and tactics related to counterterrorism and urban warfare.

But the final part of the US Army's request for information says:

"New technologies and capabilities often narrow, expand or change the range of tasks performed by the soldier, which can affect the quality of his combat work and directly affect the outcome of the operation."
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  1. rocket757
    rocket757 21 August 2020 18: 17
    Smart, cunning, technological war has been going on for a long time!
    Oh, how not worth it to lag behind everyone in such a sphere! Very dangerous!
  2. Russ
    Russ 21 August 2020 18: 17
    The ears have long been attached to the walls ... now also the eyes ...
    Progress does not stand still ...
    1. Gato
      Gato 21 August 2020 18: 25
      The ears have long been attached to the walls ... now also the eyes ...

      And you can also attach wings from a howitzer. They will fly, though not far and so ... nizenko laughing
  3. Gato
    Gato 21 August 2020 18: 22
    A very narrow scope - anti-terror in rare cases, maybe even the Ministry of Emergencies. For urban combat it is doubtful: noise, smoke, fires. There is no time to peep through the walls.
    1. 2 Level Advisor
      2 Level Advisor 21 August 2020 18: 31
      so they seem to be only as for assault groups in development and are positioned, and as I understand it, for the correct positioning of the beginning of the assault .. in a combined arms battle it is clear that there will not be much sense from them ..
      1. Gato
        Gato 21 August 2020 18: 38
        Gee, I looked around my apartment like that and remained calm: a double steel door with insulation and grounding - IR and radio range are useless. Load-bearing reinforced concrete walls - too. ¡No pasarán!
        1. RUnnm
          RUnnm 21 August 2020 18: 52
          I want this thing !! I will follow when the mother-in-law starts to make her way to the refrigerator.
          1. Gato
            Gato 21 August 2020 20: 25
            I will follow when the mother-in-law starts to make her way to the refrigerator

            I recommend stretching with a light and noise simulator. Cheap and efficient fellow
            1. RUnnm
              RUnnm 21 August 2020 20: 35
              I did. After the first two or three detonations, he first conducts engineering reconnaissance with the help of his father-in-law
              1. Gato
                Gato 21 August 2020 20: 59
                first conducts engineering reconnaissance with the help of his father-in-law

                Yes, this is serious ... Well, then if sabotage cannot be prevented, it must be led. If the father-in-law does not like to drink in one person, then a can of vodka forgotten in the refrigerator for a long time will discourage the mother-in-law from the desire to clear the approaches by her husband. If he loves, the effect will increase. wassat
                1. RUnnm
                  RUnnm 21 August 2020 21: 34
                  laughing laughing laughing
                  Well, I'll also try stretching with CXT, but if it doesn't help, I'll use your advice)))
        2. Genry
          Genry 21 August 2020 18: 57
          Quote: Gato
          IR and radio range are useless. Load-bearing reinforced concrete walls - too.

          Ignorance of the properties of protective materials and surveillance equipment does not give you the confidence to consider yourself invisible. Concrete, at some frequencies (terahertz range), behaves like glass in the visible spectrum. The metal is worse, but also visible.
          And at the airport, we are all naked.
          1. Gato
            Gato 21 August 2020 20: 23
            Ignorance of the properties of protective materials and surveillance equipment does not give you confidence

            For information: I graduated from the instrument-making faculty of the Kiev Polytechnic back in Soviet times with a degree in Optical-Electronic Devices and Systems, so a good education gives me some confidence, at least that reinforced concrete in THz does not behave like glass. If you don't believe me, you can look at the airport scanner - it works exactly in this range.
            1. Genry
              Genry 21 August 2020 22: 20
              Quote: Gato
              If you don't believe me, you can look at the airport scanner - it works exactly in this range.

              The scanner is tuned with minimal power, specifically for viewing people.
              There are sights that work in Terrahertz ... (similar to IR sights, but larger), which with a 14 mm rifle allow you to destroy targets behind brick and concrete walls. Target is visible blurry, but motion in real time.
            2. dauria
              dauria 21 August 2020 22: 34
              back in Soviet times

              In the 70s, Harmuth's work on carrierless locators was in vogue (more precisely, with an inharmonic carrier based on Walsh functions). The most modern broadband locator. I found all sorts of rubbish under the ground, etc. True, all that he could then scrape together on that element base was nanosecond pulses.
              And I remember the book - "Theory of sequential analysis. Basics and applications"
            3. japs
              japs 21 August 2020 23: 50
              Dear CAT (Gato) I very much agree with you. Soviet education saves people from today's "specialists" and experts.
              The current city specialists "shine" in the radio range, but in the optics it takes hours to wait for the gap.
        3. L-39NG
          L-39NG 22 August 2020 00: 02
          pasarán si quieren
        4. Alber alber
          Alber alber 22 August 2020 02: 12
          High-frequency ultrasonic sonar with post-processing on a digital portrait of a biological target may be suitable, or vice versa, infrasound, I heard that it passes well through solid static obstacles and spreads very far
        5. Narak-zempo
          Narak-zempo 22 August 2020 19: 52
          Quote: Gato
          ¡No pasarán!

  4. Doctor
    Doctor 21 August 2020 18: 36
    The film "Target number 1" about the murder of Bin Laden.
    The use of this thing is well shown.
  5. RealPilot
    RealPilot 21 August 2020 22: 11
    Yes, Terragerians.
    I once visited the plant in Fryazino in the Moscow region, the director showed us the work of one apparatus and said that the future belongs to the Terragerians ... It was in a similar vein. He offered to invest, he asked only 4 million. But it did not grow together! I still regret it.
    1. RealPilot
      RealPilot 21 August 2020 22: 17
      We just didn’t come for that, we were interested in thermal imagers.
      And then that main project with tires on the Maidan burned down, because the Ukrainian subcontractor fell off!
      It would be better if they scored a thermal imaging system and invested in Terragerians!
  6. voyaka uh
    voyaka uh 21 August 2020 23: 24
    We have such a thing in the engineering troops. Already used in combat
  7. TatarinSSSR
    TatarinSSSR 22 August 2020 00: 18
    90% of the article is a lot of water about how and by whom the technology could be applied and who wants it and how. And not a word about its principle and work. I consider the article to be a regular long-copy post from other resources. Article for article sake.
  8. Gringo
    Gringo 22 August 2020 11: 57
    The article is superficial. This topic grew out of the GPR topic. THz is not needed here, from 500 MHz to units of GHz is enough, the main thing is to go through the wall, and the human body is an excellent reflector. Reinforcement of concrete worsens, but does not help, only a solid sheet of metal will save from detection. The use of such technology is purely specialized, that is, the market is narrow, so there are not many manufacturers, but there is also a Russian participant on it - Logis / Geotech, with their radar detector. Why the author does not talk about this - the question ...