From January to March of this year, sixty-two percent of NATO combat deaths in Afghanistan were due to improvised explosive devices (IED)—the now infamous buried bombs that have traditionally targeted vehicles on the roads, but are increasingly hitting dismounted soldiers on patrol in Afghanistan.
Researchers Lazard Capital Markets noted in a report released last week that after combing though “every casualty report released by the DOD since January 1, 2006 to identify trends in war-related deaths attributable to IEDs,” it found that of first three months of each year, 2011 “posted the highest IED-casualty rate in comparison to the [same] period over each of the last five years” and that the rate of deaths in Afghanistan compare with those in Iraq during 2004 and 2005.
The report was written to assess Mercury Computer Systems Inc. win of an ITT subcontract for the JCREW (Joint Counter-Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive Device) 3.3 program. The JCREW family of jammers includes a man-portable system (3.1); a vehicle mounted system (3.2); and the 3.3 allows the networking of several jammers to help tie the battlefield together.
ITT was awarded a $29 million contract in December for the new version, which will help troops “collect information about their radio frequency environment, perform onboard processing and share information with commanders at other locations without stopping current IED missions,” according to SIGNAL magazine. This will allow commanders the ability to build a common operating picture while sending data to analysis centers quickly. While 3.3 is still in its engineering development model phase and won’t see testing until 2013, ITT is looking at securing a production contract later this year.
And it could be a big one. The Lazard analysts note that after the IED threat ramped up in Iraq in 2004, the DOD quickly bought up over 30,000 jammer systems over the next four years. “With U.S. and coalition forces slated to remain in Afghanistan until 2014,” the report states, “we believe the DOD will prioritize and deploy cutting edge, next generation systems like JCREW 3.3 to mitigate further IED casualties.”
The IED fight continues to evolve.