Electronic Weapons: August 20, 2003

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A lot of little known, but very useful, equipment got its first real workout in Iraq. One of these was the fifty pound Shortstop Electronic Protection System (SEPS). This is a 50 pound, vehicle mounted system that detects the radar signals transmitted by proximity fuzes in artillery and mortar shells, and rockets. A proximity fuze enables a shell or rocket to detonate above the ground, thus showering troops with fragments. Without the proximity fuze, the shell hits the ground, and that's there a lot of the fragments end up right away. SEPS will broadcast a signal that will fool the enemy proximity fuze into going off prematurely, leaving nearly all the fragments to fall harmlessly to the ground. Because of the weak signal from proximity fuzes, SEPS can only protect an area about 250 meters out, and even then, only about half the enemy proximity fuzes will be detonated prematurely. Even with those limitations, the $250,000 SEPS units, which can set up and in action within 30 seconds, were popular with the troops. They could often see another unit getting hammered by enemy artillery, and the premature shell detonations were pretty obvious.

 


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