The Biological Testing Division (BTD), a tenant unit on Dugway Proving Ground (DPG), recently began testing a prototype biological agent detector with simulated agent.
This marks the first time that a biological test has been conducted by BTD since 2015, when the Utah test facility’s command was transferred from DPG to the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC). The ECBC was renamed the Army’s Chemical Biological Center, and under the Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM).
The new detector is the Joint Biological Tactical Detection System (JBTDS), expected to replace the much larger and heavier Joint Biological Point Detection System (JBPDS), typically carried on vehicles and ships. The JBPDS was extensively tested at DPG in the early 2000s and approved for full production in 2009. It remains in current use.
Compared to its predecessor, the prototype JBTDS is small and light enough to be carried in a backpack, and requires a smaller sample to identify a biological threat.
Also, JBTDS more reliably identifies the suspected threat by employing Polymerase Chain Reaction, a method that rapidly makes millions or billions of copies of a specific DNA, amplifying it to an amount large enough to study in detail.
When the alarm sounds, the operator retrieves the dry filter from the JBTDS’ collector, then uses liquid to extract a sample from the filter for the detector’s identifier. The remaining liquid sample is taken to a lab to confirm the detector’s identification.
“The sample extraction process is a closed system, so that makes it easy for the end user - a Soldier - to use a particular sample for field identification,” said Jon Hogan, Physical Scientist and Test officer.
During testing, three JBTDS detectors at a time are challenged in a sealed chamber with simulated biological threats that are airborne bacteria, viruses, spores and biological toxins.
Testing of the JBTDS will continue into spring of 2022. Seven sub-tests, challenging the JBTDS to perform in different environments, will be conducted. Additionally, the detector/collector will be challenged with 20 different agent preparations and one simulant.
Testing is rigorous to ensure that the JBTDS functions reliably, correctly and accurately in a wide range of conditions to protect U.S. forces and their allies around the world.