IEDs are far and away the greatest threat to our armed forces in Afghanistan, having killed nearly 700 soldiers since 2001 and accounting for roughly half of all US troop deaths in the region since 2008. The newly developed ASTAMIDS system aims to find these booby traps before our ground forces do.
ASTAMIDS, short for "Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System," is a state-of-the-art ground-penetrating laser system built by Northrop-Grumman for use aboard the MQ-8 Fire Scout UAV, the UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, and fixed-wing aircraft. It detects mines ahead of ground forces—day or night—by identifying and classifying thermal and visual anomalies as potential danger areas. The system is capable of quickly identifying the presence of a field and differentiating between surface, buried, and scattered mines.