Magazine article National Defense

Battlefield Contamination Recon Enhanced in Army Upgraded Fox

Magazine article National Defense

Battlefield Contamination Recon Enhanced in Army Upgraded Fox

Article excerpt

The U.S. Army is upgrading 61 Fox wheeled armored vehicles with the goal of enhancing capabilities to detect and analyze potentially deadly battlefield contamination.

The improved Fox, called the M903A1, will eventually replace the currently fielded XM93 model. The newer vehicles are equipped with nuclear and chemical detection, warning, and communications capabilities. They can also sample nuclear, biological, and chemical contamination for future analysis.

The M903A1 "is going to be the Army standard," says Peter M. Keating, spokesman for Fox prime contractor General Dynamics Land Systems, Warren, Michigan.

Sixty Fox vehicles currently in use by the Army were provided free of charge by the German government just before the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The United States bought an additional 60, but never had the opportunity to "outfit them with all the changes the Army wanted" in time for Operation Desert Storm, says Keating in an interview.

Once the war ended, the Army focused on developing advanced technology for the vehicle, which primarily sought to be able to analyze chemicals and biological agents found in soil, water, and vegetation. The upgraded Fox, for that reason, has a spectro-analysis machine placed in the back of the vehicle, says Keating.

The M93A1 Fox reconnaissance system integrates detection, warning, and sampling equipment into a high-speed, high-mobility armored carrier that can operate on primary, secondary, or cross country routes throughout the battlefield.

It detects chemical contamination in its immediate environment through point detection and at a distance through the use of the M21 remote sensing chemical agent alarm. The Fox automatically integrates contamination information from detectors with input from on-board navigation and meteorological systems and transmits digital warning messages to follow-on forces through the maneuver control system. It warns for any possible nuclear, chemical, or biological (NBC) substance.

Typically, a team of two vehicles will precede the movement of troops and materiel to locate and mark contaminated areas.

The M21 alarm that allows 180-degree rotation and leveling in all three axes. A meteorological sensor measures wind speed, direction, air and ground temperature, and relative humidity while the vehicle is stopped. A central computer integrates the sensors and, when there is an alarm, automatically formats an NBC report for transmission. …

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