US-Israel next Mega Project: Tunnels Detection
28 July, 2014
Like Israel, Tunnels pose a national threat also to the US: Mexican drug cartels dig deep tunnels under Us territory, and North Korea has developed a dangerous tunnelled strategy
The DHS have decided to develop new tunnels detection techniques
The emergence of attack tunnels used by Hamas in the war against Israel, and probably Hezbollah in the future; has created an immediate technological challenge for security forces and the defense industries. The challenge is huge and is comparable to the development of anti-missile systems, such as the successful Israeli Iron Dome.
Once again, Israel and the US have a joint interest in developing new technology. It is expected that there will be a strong partnership between the two, similar to the development of the anti-ballistic missile and anti-medium-range rocket systems. The reason is clear: US today has a serious problem with Mexican drug cartels digging hundreds of tunnels used to smuggle drugs, tools, weapons and illegal immigrants to the country on its southern border.
Homeland Security digs deep into the subject
The DHS has tried to solve this issue for over 5 years, with little success. Only last month a 50m tunnel was reported to have been discovered in the Nogales region between Mexico and Arizona. The tunnel, a little over 1 meter high with illumination and ventilation infrastructures, was discovered by chance during a routine check on a flood water drain to which the tunnel is connected.
In 2013 six tunnels were found in the Nogales region alone. As of 1990 a hundred and forty tunnels have been discovered. According to the CBP, today there are hundreds of active tunnels between Mexico and the US. The problem is that there is currently no technology for their detection, and in general they are discovered by coincidence.
IDF Demolish Attack Tunnel in Gaza, July 2014:
The DHS have tried to develop detection technologies for some time. In the September 2012 report prepared in answer to a request from the DHS, it was defined that the office’s main goal is to acquire or develop tunnel detection technology, although there are no details about specific projects.
In 2009 a number of interesting experiments were held. The DHS informed that radars had been installed on a drone in order to find small on-ground changes indicating the building of close to surface tunnels. They began plans for detection of slight surface changes using a Hyper-spectral camera, and together with the DOD, began funding development of a radar able to penetrate deep under the ground. Since then, progress of these projects has not been reported.
GIT multi-sensor system
In some cases it did fund academia research projects in places like the Georgia Institute of Technology (GIT). Researchers at the institute experimented on the detection of tunnels using a combination of electromagnetic and seismic waves. The idea being that the ground penetrating radar pierces the ground searching for electromagnetic changes while seismic wave systems isolate mechanical changes such as ground density and mechanical changes in the soil.
The GIT experiment was aimed to use two different sensors and image processing system, based on the idea that tunnels are generally straight, and therefore the displayed linear picture is noticeable in normal underground views.
Researchers used a radar with two transmission antennas and four multi-static receiving antennas working at frequencies of 500MHz-1GHz. The Seismic system was based on a sensor that produces acoustic waves when hitting the ground and then receiving the back-shocks generated from the ground.
The “terror tunnel” was represented by a plastic tube 3m long with a 10cm circumference set 58cm deep in a sandpit. The researchers reported that the experiment was a success. However it should be noted that this challenge is far removed from the real challenge – detecting cement lined tunnels built tens of meters below surface.
The US Army Enters into the Picture
The US army is also concerned about the tunnels issue, and has been searching for a solution since 1980. DARPA conducted research into the threat of tunnels in Korea following findings of tunnels dug in North Korea, where one tunnel was detected in an American post.
These tunnels were detected by chance. One very shallow tunnel was discovered by soldiers who noticed a straight line of inconsistent vegetation. In another case, North Koreans used dynamite to dig a tunnel in hard mountainous stone. The explosions were identified by a Seismic system which gave a rough identification of the area. South Korea then drilled the entire area tens of meters down until the tunnel was detected and exploded.
The reality is that there could be today hundreds of hidden tunnels between North and South Korea, which could be used for surprise attack, similar to that used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam war in 1968. The American army also came across the problem of tunnels in Afghanistan.
2011 saw the start of the US Engineering Corps R2TD project to develop technologies to detect and dismantle tunnels. The Engineering Corps has not reported their finding, but they did receive a Prize for Excellency in 2013.
The conclusion is simple, there is still no efficient and proven technology that detects deep tunnels similar to those built by the Hamas, although the US has tremendous interest in developing this technology. This means that there is a very good chance that the project will be a joint US-Israel effort.