Defense Agency May Add Some ‘Luster’ to Threat Detection

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Global Security Newswire Staff
March 7, 2014, 9:16 a.m.

The Pentagon’s fu­tur­ist­ic R&D arm, the De­fense Ad­vanced Re­search Pro­jects Agency, plans to de­vel­op a small and port­able sys­tem that could re­veal and identi­fy chem­ic­al or bio­lo­gic­al threats on the bat­tle­field, the Wired “Danger Room” blog re­ports.

Agency of­fi­cials call the de­sired tech­no­logy the “Laser UV Sources for Tac­tic­al Ef­fi­cient Ra­man” pro­gram — a mouth­ful that, as serendip­ity would have it, spells out “LUSTER” as its ac­ronym.

The sys­tem would be based on high power and ef­fi­cient ul­tra­vi­olet lasers, an ap­proach that re­search­ers hope might keep costs capped and avoid the bulk­i­ness that has plagued field per­son­nel in places like Syr­ia or, be­fore that, Ir­aq.

“Today’s stan­doff de­tec­tion sys­tems are so large and heavy that trucks are re­quired to move them,” Dan Green, an agency pro­ject man­ager, said in a news re­lease. “LUSTER seeks to de­vel­op new laser sources for break­through chem­ic­al and bio­lo­gic­al agent de­tec­tion sys­tems that are com­pact and light enough to be car­ried by an in­di­vidu­al, while be­ing more ef­fi­cient than today’s sys­tems.”

He ad­ded: “We also want to take a couple of zer­oes off the price tag.”