Chemical Detection

Article excerpt

The M21 Automatic Chemical Agent Alarm is the first standoff chemical agent detector approved for fielding to the soldier. It gives early warning of blister and nerve agents up to five kilometers, thus allowing field commanders to identify and maneuver around contaminated areas. An automatic scanning, passive infrared sensor, it detects agent vapor clouds by changes that the vapor causes in the background infrared spectra. Scanning a 60-degree arc, the M21 sounds a horn and illuminates either a blister or nerve light. It is currently being fielded. In addition to tripod-mounted configurations, the M21 is mounted on a mast on the M93A1 Pox NBC reconnaissance system.

The M22 Chemical Agent Alarm is an off-the-shelf alarm system capable of detecting and identifying standard blister and nerve agents. The M22 used the foreign comparative testing program for down-selection of the United Kingdom's GID-3. The M22 system is nonportable, operates independently after system startup, and provides an audible and visual alarm. The M22 system also provides a communications interface for automatic battlefield warning and reporting. The M22 is an improvement over the M8A1 automatic chemical agent alarm system in four major areas: it provides simultaneous detection and warning of nerve and blister agents; it is significantly more sensitive than the M8A1; it can operate in a collective protection environment; and it is much less responsive to interference, thus reducing false alarms. The M22 is currently fielded to the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

The Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM) and the Improved CAM (ICAM) provide a means of quickly locating the presence or absence of nerve- and mustard-agent contamination on personnel and equipment.

CAM is a handheld device used by troops in full protective clothing after an attack or exposure to a contaminated area. It provides fast low-level detection of nerve and mustard vapors, differentiates between nerve and mustard agents, provides an indication of the relative magnitude of the hazard present and is not affected by most common forms of battlefield interference.

The use of the CAM on a chemical battlefield lowers the risk commanders may have to take when reducing the level of mission-oriented protection posture in a combat situation. CAM gives commanders the ability to quickly monitor for contamination, thereby allowing soldiers and equipment to remain engaged in their combat missions. CAM is also used to check the effectiveness of decontamination operations. …