Among the military acronyms that have infiltrated common speech in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, IED (improvised explosive device) and RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) may be two of the most deadly. Armored vehicles, trucks, tanks and other transport targeted by roadside bombs and rocket-launched grenades remain vulnerable to attack, but U.S. Army researchers and Textron Defense Systems, Wilmington, Mass., are trying to change that dynamic with TRAPS.
Textron’s Tactical Rocket Propelled Grenade Airbag Protection System (TRAPS) is a vehicle protection system using sensor-detection technology, airbags and non-lethal countermeasures to protect troops from RPGs. In recent successful tests at the Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center in Socorro, New Mexico, TRAPS prevented numerous live RPGs fired from different angles and distances from exploding. Sensors detect the rocket and deploy airbags on the threatened side of the vehicle, stopping the RPG and preventing shrapnel from injuring soldiers or civilians nearby. Further data analysis and testing continue to refine TRAPS and explore its viability on other vehicles, including the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) minesweeper vehicle that allows the military to seek out and destroy IEDs.