Small, rugged, portable, chemical detectors that can be networked
are among the technologies needed today at the Defense Department,
officials said during a briefing hosted by the U.S. Army Soldier
and Chemical Command (SBCCOM), in Aberdeen, Md.
One program seeking such technologies is the Joint Chemical Agent
Detector (JCAD), which is a next-generation, portable detection
system for individual use, said Air Force Capt. Patrice Moore, a
representative from the Human Systems Programs Office at Brooks
Air Force Base, Texas.
JCAD weighs two pounds and occupies 40 cubic inches of space. It
is light enough to fit in a pack and can be mounted on vehicles,
aircraft or aboard ships. JCAD can be adapted to stand-alone configurations
for survey missions, Moore said.
For instance, eye damage can result from low-level accumulations
of chemical agents that can collect inside of an aircraft—particularly
helicopters and transports—over the course of a mission, she
explained. For this reason, the ability to detect low levels of
chemical agents, 12 hours after the mission has been completed,
is a capability that the Air Force wants to have, said Moore.
“JCAD is sufficiently sensitive to warn aircrews before dangerous
dose-level accumulations occur,” she said. The device also
is small and rugged enough to be used by forces on the ground, Moore
JCAD will be integrated [networked] with other chemical detection
and evaluation platforms, said Moore. “It is important to
provide effective detection and warning for long-term, low-dose
hazards,” she commented.
The device features a low unit cost of $2,000, said Moore. This
is a JCAD feature that the Air Force is determined to maintain,
After gaining Milestone III approval for JCAD in November 1997,
BAE Systems was awarded an engineering, manufacturing and development
When the Systems Program Office requested an additional $5.7 million
for 1999, however, to cover the second EMD contract, funding was
routed, instead, to other NBC defense programs, Air Force officials
Currently, the United States and the United Kingdom are sharing
information and loaning one another prototypes of the JCAD, said
Moore. Foreign comparative testing has already started at the Edgewood
Chemical Biological Center, Md.
In September 2001, 168 units are scheduled for testing, said Moore.
The challenge to industry, she said, is to prove, through development
and testing, that small chemical detectors, such as JCAD, are actually
capable of delivering what they advertise.
That means, Moore said, detection sensitivity and small, lightweight
packaging that can survive environmental extremes caused by weather
and chemical substances, plus meet desired platform and operational
requirements—all this by 2002. A sole-source contract award
is slated to run between 2002 and 2007, she said. The estimated
value could run as high as $546 million. This money could buy more
than 270,000 JCADs, said Moore.