Forces must now consider seriously the integration on vehicles of a robust, fast and reliable CBRN detection system for not only threat awareness but also soldier protection
In a context of constantly evolving conflicts, varying threats and a constantly changing environment, the need for armoured vehicle equipment to provide greater capabilities and mission profiles has grown. The ability of vehicles to be able to detect and warn of threats and identify threat areas provides protection to the crew members – as well as improved responses and protection of civilians and facilities against CBRN threats.
Drawing on its experience of more than 30 years in the field of chemical and biological detection with the armed forces, Proengin detectors have been specially designed to be used in severe environments (temperature, humidity, dust) and to respond to the highest demands placed on vehicles.
Proengin’s proven technology in its AP4C Detector Series characteristics essential to the security of armed forces:
- Ease of use
- Rapid detection with fast sample rates and detection thresholds set for likely threats
- Simultaneous detection of several families of gases or vapours and the ability to detect chemical and biological threats simultaneously in the
- same detector
- The lowest false negative rate on the market
- Unlimited toxic detection field (CWA/TIC/PBA (Pharmaceutical Based Agent)
- Ability to record and store continuous detection data
Solutions for vehicles or drones comprise chemical or combined chem/bio detection technologies. Installed externally to the vehicle, the device provides continuous automatic monitoring of air environment for chemical warfare agents (CWAs), biological agents (BWAs), and toxic industrial materials (TIMs) – with definition of their types and concentration.
The detector transfers this information to the data collection and processing system, which generates visual and audio signals when trigger thresholds have been reached.
Visualisation and control modules
Proengin’s visualisation and control modules (VCM) are designed to be installed inside vehicles. The VCM units allow collection, processing, and visualisation of information obtained from AP4C-V and AP4C-VB chemical and biological reconnaissance devices. The VCM units also monitor the detector and provide needed information to the user regarding detector status.
An optional upgrade of the Proengin VCM is available that adds in ambient dose equivalent rate (DER) of gamma radiation, ambient dose equivalent (DE) of gamma and neutron radiation – using built-in detectors of the crew in the cabin – and also measurement DER of gamma radiation with remote BDBG-T detection unit detecting units. This provides a fully integrated CBRN approach in a single turnkey system.
By simply combining Proengin AP4C-VB chemical and bio detector with the VCM unit, a protective CBRN monitoring system is then in place that provides the vehicle crew with full NBC reconnaissance and monitoring capabilities.
Focus on R & D
Proengin has been heavily orientated towards research and development (R&D) since its creation in the late 1970s. More than a third of staff work in the R&D department. Efforts have focused on flame spectrometry technology and the company has worked on continuously improving it.
The emphasis has always been on enhancing the detection performance for chemical and biological threats, including TICs/TIMs and also radiation and nuclear threats. Integrated solutions are being offered for military and civil biological threats in a single device.
In recent years the company began to develop a full CBRN protection system for the vehicle market:
An AP4C-VB chemical and biological detector or an AP4C-V chemical detector installed outdoor of the vehicle
One or several optional radiological detectors that can both monitor inside and outside radiation levels and will provide directional information
A ruggedised VCM providing alarms, notifications and updates on system status.
The ‘Universal’ detector
Flame spectrometry has the ability to detect in real time phosphorus, sulphur, arsenic, nitrogen (in carbon-containing molecules), potassium, sodium, and calcium. It can detect many other elements and in various material forms – including in gases, aerosols, dust or particles.
The first four elements (phosphorus, sulphur, arsenic, and nitrogen) are the common components found in most toxic chemical agents. Classic CWAs – nerve agents, blister agents and blood agents – contain one or several of the above elements, as well as new emerging threats such as Novichok nerve agents and pharmaceuticals such as opioids – most notably, Fentanyl. Flame spectroscopy is used in many educational institutions, testing laboratories and government facilities.
The AP4C-V and AP4C-VB flame spectrometer detectors developed by Proengin can detect any of the classic agents – including new fourth-generation agent threats and numerous toxic industrial materials – without any upgrade, providing they contain one of the above elements.
The core technology has been miniaturised and hardened for the device to operate in the harshest environments encountered in military operations:
- Can detect mixed and crude products, precursors, derivatives and unknown substances (non-traditional agents) while the vehicle is moving up to 95 km/h
- Does not require a filter or membrane at the input Has a very short recovery time after reliable detection of chemical agents
- Insensitivity to external factors (dust, exhaust gas of diesel engines, high humidity)
- Extremely low level of false alarms compared to other technologies
- Can operate in the areas with flammable gas (as opposed to other solutions with high-voltage electrodes that pose an explosion threat)
- Requires minimal field maintenance
- Fast start-up times
- Combined chem and bio detection in a single detector system.
It is the only detection technology that can simultaneously detect all the agents listed in Schedule 1 of the OPCW (Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons). The added benefit of the technology is that it can also detect at very high sample rates and concentrations, which is essential in a vehicle that is moving and constantly changing locations.
Many detector systems struggle when exposed to military environments due to the presence of extreme temperatures, dust, exhaust from vehicles or humidity levels. From the very first development, Proengin’s products and solutions have been designed to be used in harsh field conditions.
Having sold products into military applications for 35 years, this experience has allowed Proengin to develop a pedigree recognised by users as a completely robust technology. Its equipment is used in more than 70 countries, exemplified by a recently awarded contract to equip Griffon and Serval armoured vehicles as part of the French Scorpion programme.
In addition to vehicle programmes, the detectors are also well suited to be operated in harsh sea conditions. Proengin detectors run 24/7 and have been deployed on several civil and military naval programmes.
Critical infrastructure such as government buildings, airports and commercial centres are increasingly being equipped with CBRN detection systems. Proengin CBRN systems ensure enhanced detection capabilities with high reliability and low maintenance costs.
An additional selling point is an open architecture system that allows the company to work with many security and infrastructure and building management systems, or operate as an integrated package with the VCM.
Maintenance and services
Proengin offers training, technical assistance, and worldwide maintenance support. It will help interested customers define the best solution for their needs and will also support them in integration of products and after-sales support through the company’s extended distribution channel partners.
The VBCI is one of several vehicles from the French Scorpion programme that will be equipped with the AP4C-V.