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Parsons hosts USAF at RADBO hand-over

HUNTSVILLE – Parsons hosted an outdoor brunch and commemoration ceremony today marking the delivery to the Air Force of the first of 13 Recovery of Airbase Denied by Ordnance systems. Also included were three Parsons-developed ZEUS laser neutralization systems.

Hosted at the Parsons facility in Cummings Research Park where the RADBO system is manufactured, Shane Hegarty, vice president Integration & Production Directorate, welcomed senior Parsons leadership staff, customers, partners, and elected officials.

The RADBO system deploys critical force protection and mission-enabling technology that greatly increases safe and effective explosive ordnance disposal operation. It is comprised of three primary components: the mine instant ambush protected vehicle, the interrogation arm assembly, and the Parsons developed ZEUS laser.

Hegarty called it “Threat negation at the speed of light,” a phrase he admittedly stole from his boss.

RADBO systems ready for delivery today (256 Today)

Since Parsons began developing the system in 1997, 141 DoD technicians have lost their lives in the line of duty, but they may have been saved with the RADBO technology.

“With a 300-meter standoff distance and armored vehicle platform, the RADBO system will protect airmen from the lethal dangers faced by today’s DoD technicians, allowing them to effectively and efficiently clear unexploded ordnances from a safe distance,” said Hegarty. “The RADBO program and our partnerships with the Air Force and local businesses, have resulted in a significant positive economic impact on the Huntsville area.

“The RADBO program alone has resulted in $50 million in investment in the Huntsville area, $40 million of which goes directly to Huntsville-area businesses and $6.5 million to small businesses.

“It also represents more than 50 jobs to the Huntsville area and more than 30 of those are here at Parsons.”

Dr. John Olive, deputy of Explosive Ordnance Disposal, USAF Civil Engineering/Air Force EOD subject matter expert gave a history of the RADBO evolution dating back to initial discussions in the 1980s and the beginning of development in 1992.

“I came back from Afghanistan in 2014 and after getting a full update on where we were with the system, I said, ‘Let’s go down to Redstone and shoot it’,” he said. “We’d been looking at direct energy for decades but for one reason or another, technology was never quite there, so I wanted to see it for myself.

“We came down here and shot it and I remember saying something like, ‘The technology is there, right? It has finally matured, and we must get this fielded, this capability.’”

He said the RADBO is used for high end flight not capability the Air Force plans to send to what is called outside the wire. It is made for airfield operations and recovery air bases as the military turns to a hub-and-spoke strategy with dispersal of assets to deliver airfield fire power.

“We are going to get hit hard and fast and we have to be prepared for everything,” Olive continued. “The key is, if we get hit, missile attack in either our hub locations or main operating bases or the spokes we are building, we have to be able to recover them and still be able to launch aircraft.

“So, we are given the requirement that we have eight hours, so from the time the last bomb drops we have to get capability out there in the airfield to do an assessment within 30 minutes and then the UXO mitigation piece comes next and that is called RADBO mitigation.”

Directed energy weapons such as those used in the RADBO, damage their target with highly focused energy, including lasers, microwaves, particle beams, and sound beams.

“Sixty years ago, we started this research park and we started with the idea that we had a synergy here, technology, innovation, and today we show the proof of that technology and that innovation coming out with the RADBO,” said Mayor Tommy Battle. “You see what we have been able to put together and this is a ‘we’ – it is a total ‘we’, because everybody has been a part of it.

“The synergy that has come out of Research Park, the synergy that comes out of Redstone Arsenal, the synergy that comes from this community is what has been able to make us have a project like this that is second to none.

“People will be talking about this all over the world and it was done right here in Huntsville.

“Thank you to the team at Parsons for the job you have done and congratulations. It is one of those projects that will go down as a milestone for Research Park, for Redstone Arsenal, and for our community.”

The presentation ended with the symbolic hand-off of a commemorative coin marked by a single shot through its center from the RADBO system, representative of the official hand-off of the RADBO systems to the Air Force.

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