Visualization of Propellant Residues From Shoulder-Fired Rockets Upon Skin and Clothing
Agency / Branch:
DOD / USAF
Shoulder launched missiles, particularly the RPG-7, constitute 50% of all casualties in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Returning direct fire is difficult due to the insurgents use of crowds as cover. As a result, the Air Force requires a means of detecting propellant residue on skin and clothes in order to identify individuals who have recently fired rockets. In response to this need, MetroLaser, proposes the standoff optical acquisition propellant detection (SOAP-D) system based on a recently discovered photoluminescence effect which generates a sharp 705 nm emission in response to the vast majority of modern explosives and propellants, including the four major components of RPG propellant. The technique does not require contact or deposition of chemicals and can be used in real time over considerable distances. Initial testing using smokeless powder firearm discharge residue indicates that detection is possible under realistic conditions. The SOAP-D system will implement a rugged, portable, easy to use system for the detection of propellant residues. In Phase I, MetroLaser will obtain samples of propellant residue, evaluate and optimize the photoluminescent effect employed, and demonstrate an optical breadboard system capable of detecting operation over distances of several meters. Commercial applications include screening of baggage and parcels and forensics.
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