The Athena Radar-Responsive Tag is not strictly speaking a medical device, but rather a military safety gadget to prevent friendly fire casualties. Developed by the Sandia National Laboratories, along with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. and Sierra Monolithics Inc., the system has just been tested during Exercise “Urgent Quest” in the United Kingdom.
During the demonstration, Athena tags were placed on military vehicles participating in the exercises. The device, tracked via aircraft radar, can be used to identify both U.S. and coalition forces during combat to avoid fratricide. During war, fratricide is the act of killing one’s own soldiers.
Aircraft on bombing runs used their on-board radar systems to ensure there were no friendly troops in their sights. If an Athena-tagged vehicle was present, a unique identifier appeared on the pilot’s screen alerting him to a friendly force in his target area, thereby avoiding a potential friendly fire incident.
In preparation for Exercise Urgent Quest, the Athena tag has been demonstrated with several U.S. and European aircraft. In addition to combat identification, the tag can be used for blue force tracking, a similar but not identical mission.
Sandia Project administrator Darick Lewis says the exercises were intended to evaluate the effectiveness of various technologies in preventing friendly fire.
“Ideally, worthy candidate technologies can be transitioned into final development programs and produced for warfighter use,” he says. “Athena is effective because it utilizes a fighter aircraft’s existing radar for detection. It is simple, rugged, small and inexpensive to integrate.”
The Sandia press release…