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The US Army wants its soldiers to be able to see enemies and other deadly threats through walls

Capt. De Lao, 1st Battalion, 87th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division guards the corner of a hallway

  • The US Army is trying to figure out how to see through walls to identify threats and to map structures above and below ground.
  • The service recently issued a request for information to help inform the development of a See Through the Wall (STTW) system.
  • It would be “man-portable systems that give the soldier the ability to detect, identify, and monitor persons, animals, and materials behind multi-leveled obstruction(s) from a long standoff range,” among other capabilities.
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The US Army is trying to figure out a way to give its soldiers the ability to see threats through walls, according to a recently published request for information.

The Army is modernizing in a way it hasn’t in decades. The service has already seen the development of incredible new technologies, such as pocket-sized drones and next-generation night-vision goggles wired to a weapon sight to let soldiers shoot around corners.

The Army now wants to eliminate a frightening unknown: The threat that waits on the other side of the wall. It wants to know how its soldiers can see through obstacles.

The service is looking to develop “man-portable systems that give the soldier the ability to detect, identify, and monitor persons, animals, and materials behind multi-leveled obstruction(s) from a long standoff range,” according to a request for information released in late January.

The Army explained that the system should be able to see through various types of obstacles, including dense vegetation, and use biometric data to track, positively identify, and differentiate between targets. For example, the resulting system should be able to tell friend from foe.

The Army wants a system that can “track, locate, isolate, range, and count personnel and animals in a building or structure,” the request said, adding that it should also be able to determine whether detected individuals are “sitting, standing, walking, or lying down.”

The so-called See Through the Wall (SSTTW) system would also “be able to detect hidden passages and rooms inside of a structure,” as well as “map the structure and detect hidden rooms, passages, alcoves, caches, etc. including those underground.” The Army expects the system to create 3D maps of structures.

The Army request said that it also expects the system to be capable of identifying potential threats to soldiers assigned to clearing operations, such as tripwires, improvised explosive devices, and other traps.

While the desired STTW system would primarily be carried on a soldier’s person, the Army explained that it would be ideal if it was also able to be mounted on an unmanned aerial system or unground combat vehicle.

The Army said that submitted white papers “should address what the path forward is for the US Army to meet this goal.”

The latest RFI, which will conclude in March, is not the first time the Army has looked into this kind of technology. In October, the service awarded Lumineye, Inc. a $250,000 prize for their wall-penetrating radar, technology designed to help soldiers and first responders that won the service’s Expeditionary Technology Search (xTechSearch) competition.

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