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Defense Systems

Safeguarding our soldiers involved in global conflicts requires innovative solutions that meet and exceed the challenges faced in modern warfare. The INL has a long history of supporting our servicemen and women both at home and abroad.

We work with all branches of the U.S. military, private industry and other federal agencies to develop innovative technologies and provide technical assistance in areas including:

  • Armor and Survivability
  • Explosives Detection and Testing
  • Unmanned Robotics Systems
  • CBRNE Programs 

Armor Development and Testing

For more than two decades, Idaho National Laboratory has been a recognized leader in unique survivability solutions for special military forces, law-enforcement agencies and homeland security personnel. INL armor is a proven choice against combined kinetic, blast and fragmentation threats. The laboratory is the only facility comprehensively designing and manufacturing battle-proven armor for the Army's Abrams tank fleet, developing lightweight armor for combat and tactical vehicles and performing research into form-fitting ceramic and transparent armor.

Explosives Detection and Testing

Additionally, our capabilities in vulnerability analysis and our full-scale explosives testing facilities combined with our award-winning technology and fabrication departments create a unique location for developing and testing new protective systems. INL is a recognized leader in trace and bulk explosives detection, blast effects and shock and vibration analysis. Our facilities include an explosives test range capable of handling up to 20,000-pound TNT-equivalent, a live-fire test bed and a Class II, Division I operations room for explosives assembly.

Our scientists have developed award-winning technologies including the Idaho Explosives Detection System, which scans cargo trucks for smuggled explosives entering military bases and parking garages. We are also working to develop and assess technologies for detecting trace amounts of explosives at airports.

Unmanned Robotics Systems

Partnering with private industry, INL has advanced the capabilities of unmanned aerial and ground robotics systems by testing, integrating and helping to develop a series of low-cost sensors for detecting radiological plumes, collecting thermal images and capturing high-resolution geospatial imagery for law-enforcement operations. Using our dedicated 1,000-foot runway and mobile ground station, INL engineers are testing and fitting lightweight, low-cost unmanned aerial and ground vehicles with sensors to perform surveillance over large infrastructures such as power and gas pipelines or during emergency events such as forest fires.

INL engineers have also developed an intelligence kernel for ground robotic systems. This sensor-based technology allows ground robots to learn and adapt their behaviors based on environmental conditions, much like a highly-trained police dog. Kernel-equipped robots have been used by the military units to assist in landmine detection and improvised explosive device removal.

CBRNE Programs

INL engineers have developed systems for conducting both fixed and mobile chemical munitions assessments. We have established programs that assist the U.S. military in prioritizing, testing and deploying equipment for CBRNE operations. In addition, the INL-developed Mobile Munitions Assessment System has been deployed stateside by the Department of Defense since the early 1990s. This customized vehicle comes complete with mobile equipment for the characterization, assessment and removal of nonstockpile chemical weapons.

Researchers have also developed technologies such as the portable isotopic neutron spectroscopy (PINS) system, and an x-ray tomography system for non-intrusively assessing the contents of munitions, storage containers or other suspect items.

Page Contact Information:

Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office