Shooter-detection 'Boomerangs' helping in Iraq
December 17, 2009
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE, Basra (Dec. 17, 2009) -- A new acoustic shooter-detection system called "Boomerang" detects incoming gunfire in Iraq and alerts Soldiers to the shooter's location, allowing them to immediately return fire.
"It's an anti-sniper detection system," said Pierre Jackson, an installer of Boomerang systems for the firm D3M.
"Basically, if someone is firing at you, it picks up exactly where they're firing from," he said.
When a Soldier is on patrol, the device is passive. It signals Soldiers with an audible and a visual warning if it detects an incoming, supersonic round.
It relays the direction, distance, and azimuth to the shooter.
Training only takes a half-hour.
"The system itself seems very easy to learn," said Chief Warrant Officer Joshua White, a native of Fort Lewis, Wash., and the electronic warfare officer for the 17th Fires Brigade.
"It's something that the Army has used to protect the Soldier," he said. "That's what's important: bringing our Soldiers home."
According to Michael Reich, an instructor on the Boomerang system for D3M, the system is a crucial tool for Soldiers.
"It's going to be a very effective system that's going to help them get out of the heat of the battle," he said.
The $15,000 system is becoming more commonplace on Soldiers' tactical vehicles and takes about an hour to install.
A cluster of microphones picks up the sounds of incoming supersonic rounds and a computer analyzes the sounds.
Since only supersonic rounds are detected, a false alarm cannot be created by such things as fireworks, said Reich.
The Boomerang system can also discern outgoing fire and even allows Soldiers to recall the last 10 shots registered, he said.
The first of these Boomerangs arrived in Mosul, Iraq, in July.
"Since then the system has been improved," said Jackson. "It's gone from 100 pounds to 26 pounds, it's very manageable and easy to maintain."
"We have gotten excellent feedback on them," he said. "It's been field-tested and that's why they come with a zero-fault test on the system itself. Soldiers can trust this stuff."
According to Reich, a former Airman, there are already plans to adapt the system for foot patrols.
"I love this job," he said, "I love coming out, helping the Soldiers with this system that is really effective. I feel like I'm really giving them stuff that is going to help save their life over here."
Formerly an enlisted infantry Soldier, Jackson was deployed to Iraq from 2003 to 2004, where he received his first Purple Heart in combat.
"Once a Soldier always a Soldier," said Jackson, "Anything to help them out because I've been there."