12. February 2006 · Comments Off on It Seems Ionatron IS For Real · Categories: General, Iraq, Military, Technology

Last May, I put up a somewhat skeptical post about an Arizona company called Ionatron, and their marvelous IED exploding vehicle.

Well, it is VERY real, being developed under the aegis of the Joint IED Defeat Task Force (JIEDD TF), and has passed initial trials, but getting productions units to Iraq (at least as far as the Army, Navy, and Air Force go) seems to have gone FUBAR:

Last April, Army Brig. Gen. Joseph Votel, the commander of a Pentagon task force in charge of finding ways to combat the makeshift bombs known as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, endorsed development of the vehicle, called the Joint IED Neutralizer. The remote-controlled device blows up roadside bombs with a directed electrical charge, and based on Votel’s assessment, then-deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz recommended investing $30 million in research and sending prototypes to Iraq for testing.

But 10 months later — and after a prototype destroyed about 90% of the IEDs laid in its path during a battery of tests — not a single JIN has been shipped to Iraq.

To many in the military, the delay in deploying the vehicles, which resemble souped-up, armor-plated golf carts, is a case study in the Pentagon’s inability to bypass cumbersome peacetime procedures to meet the urgent demands of troops in the field. More than half of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq have been caused by roadside bombs, and the number of such attacks nearly doubled last year compared with 2004.


A JIN prototype was tested extensively in mid-September at the Army’s Yuma Proving Grounds in the Arizona desert, destroying most of the roadside bombs put in its way. But the Pentagon’s IED task force said that the device required further testing, and that a decision to delay deployment had been made jointly by Pentagon officials and commanders in Iraq.

“The decision has been made that it’s not yet mature enough,” said Army Brig. Gen. Dan Allyn, deputy director of the task force, which was recently renamed the Joint IED Defeat Organization. Iraq is “not the place to be testing unproven technology.”

But the Marine Corps believes otherwise and recently decided to circumvent the testing schedule and send JIN units to Al Anbar province in western Iraq. Marines have been deployed in the restive area, home to the cities of Fallouja and Ramadi, since February 2004.

The Marines are now making final preparations to deploy a number of JIN prototypes to Al Anbar. Based on their performance, Marine commanders said, they hope the device can eventually be used throughout Iraq.

This will hardly be the first time the USMC, being the lighter and nimbler organization they are, has taken the point on new technologies. As the units can be remotely operated, the only problem I see with putting a few out to see how they work is that, were one to become disabled, that would be a piece of technology you wouldn’t want to just abandon at the roadside. You’d either have to tow it home, or blast it to kingdom come

Hat Tip: reader Glen Jarboe

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