The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded L3Harris Technologies an $85 million contract to procure 170 bomb disposal robots for airbase protection.
The Florida-based manufacturer’s T7 robots will replace the service’s 20-year-old Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) system, Andros HD-1, over ten years. L3Harris revealed in a statement that the contract includes robots, robotics support, maintenance, and training. Deliveries will start from next year.
The USAF’s current EOD, manufactured by Northrop Grumman subsidiary Remotec, was last upgraded in 2010-12. The upgrade made it more powerful, capable of lifting up to 125 pounds, and it climbed stairs better. It was integrated with the Talisman radio system for superior stand-off and received a new operator control unit.
The T7, meanwhile, was chosen by the British army in 2018 to “neutralize a wide range of explosive threats.” The system is equipped with “high-definition cameras, data links, an adjustable manipulation arm, and tank-like all-terrain treads.” It also uses a “haptic feedback” system to give the operator a sense of the robot’s touch to better understand the object being defused.
Various attachments such as “standard issue sensors, disruptors, and tools” support a range of military and commercial tasks including “hazardous materials (HAZMAT) cleanup, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD), intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) and special weapons and tactics (SWAT) missions.”
The system weighs 710 pounds (322 kg) (with arm and batteries installed) and can operate for up to eight hours at a maximum speed of 5 miles (8 km) per hour.