Saturday, 7 May 2011

Bomb-sniffing prowess

By far my favourite news article this week - about a specially trained dog sent in after Osama bin Laden- the part I like best is the speaker in the dog's vest. Genius idea. Total genius. If I had one of these for Boo I could call her back when she was out of ear-shot. When are these going to be widely available??

"The identity of the military super-dog, like that of the 79 Navy SEALs involved in the operation in Pakistan last Sunday, will remain a secret.

But experts say the canine is either a German shepherd or Belgian Malinois — breeds the US army believe have "the best overall combination of keen sense of smell, endurance, speed, strength, courage, intelligence and adaptability to almost any climatic condition", according to a military fact sheet cited in the New York Times.

In the Abbottabad compound raid, the dog was equipped with protective body armour before rappelling onto the ground from a hovering helicopter in a support harness attached to its handler, according to US media reports.

This particular dog was known for its bomb-sniffing prowess and The Daily reports it was trained to "sniff out enemy troops from up to [3km] away".

The German and Belgian shepherd dogs can run twice as fast as humans, so if bin Laden tried to escape on foot the dog could have stopped his getaway, the Atlantic reports.

The US Army has invested heavily in training dogs for combat, deploying about 3000 canines that can parachute, rappel or swim into action.

The Navy SEALs recently bought four tactical vests for their dogs worth $20,000, each with infrared and night-vision cameras that allow handlers in bomb detection situations to see what the dog sees, but from a safe distance.

The handler can also give commands to the dog via a speaker on its vest.

General David Petraeus, commander of US forces in Afghanistan, told US network ABC News: "The capability [the dogs] bring to the fight cannot be replicated by man or machine.

"By all measures of performance, their yield outperforms any asset we have in our industry.""

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