BAE Systems is ramping up production of a military chemical detection kit after the terror attacks in New York created a new market for civilian use. Fear of terror attacks using chemicals is prompting civil authorities and firms to seek effective means of detecting harmful agents.

The JCAD (Joint Chemical Agent Detector) will be produced at a rate of "thousands a month" rather than in hundreds, according to a BAE Systems team showing off the man-wearable system at Asian Aerospace (Hall A/721).

"We are seeing huge levels of interest in the JCAD from a whole range of civilian groups," says Gary Morris, director marketing and partnering, Integrated Defense Solutions (IDS).


"As of 11 September we accelerated our production capabilities. I guess a product like this would have normally been produced in the hundreds a month. "We are aiming for thousands a month and, by May, we will have a significant production capability."

JCAD, claimed by IDS to be more reliable than any other form of chemical detection, can detect nerve, blister and blood agents together with toxic gases and up to 99 industrial chemicals.

The system can both accumulate and report on trace levels of chemicals and still give a rapid alarm response to high concentrations of agents. "No matter what environment it is in, it can distinguish between general clutter such as smoke and the chemicals it is looking for," says Morris.

The lightweight unit can be hand-held or installed in a vehicle or aircraft. It can be used as a stand-alone detector or as part of a network around base perimeters or buildings. JCAD is about to be accepted into all of the United States armed forces which have a firm order for 270,000 units. However, IDS believes that the events of September will see follow-on orders and a request for the delivery programme to be speeded up.

"We believe this is likely to happen and we are gearing up to meet that demand," says Morris.


Beyond the military requirement lies a range of civilian markets, from state and local authorities to emergency services, and possibly a consumer version, he adds.

"It has been developed to a military specification but it could be shrunk in size to enable it to be used for many applications," he says, adding that interest is worldwide. JCAD is based on surface acoustic wave sensors which is also the technology being used in developing the IDS ChemSonde, aircraft-deployed tactical dropsonde.

Source: Flight Daily News