Counter-Terrorism: X-Ray Vision an Expensive Success


September 7, 2006: One of the more successful counter-terrorism technologies has been n new, and portable, version of an old one. The old tech is backscatter radar. Originally developed during the Cold War, to provide a long range (over the horizon) radar, there is now a portable (carried in a van) version called the "Ruggedized Detection Imaging Modules" (RDIM). The Department of Defense now has 67 of these units in Iraq and Afghanistan.
These are the X-Ray machines that can see through clothing, and inside vehicles, and distinguish between organic and inorganic material. RDIM provides a photo quality image in seconds. The subject has to stand in front of the RDIM. Now normally, you could check someone for bombs on their person by just patting them down. But suicide bombers tend to set off their bombs when they perceive a pat-down coming. So a RDIM could be set up so that the operator and the subjects are far enough away from each other that, if a suicide bomber is encountered, you only lose the machine. That can be expensive, for these rigs go for $1.5 million each, and cost over $20,000 a month to maintain. The Department of Defense began with four RDIMs in early 2005, but quickly obtained more when it was discovered how useful the units are.


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