ERDC’s Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory tests two new rapidly deployable protection systems

Published 2:30 pm Friday, October 8, 2021

Last month, researchers from the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s (ERDC) Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory unveiled two new systems that will provide additional protection to American servicemen and women in the field.

ERDC researchers worked with Soldiers from the 412th Theater Engineer Command and other service members to demonstrate the benefits of the two new systems. Researchers also used this training opportunity to get feedback on how to improve each system’s functionality in the field.

“It was great getting to work with the Soldiers and others who would be using these products in the field,” said Dr. Genevieve Pezzola, ERDC program manager for the Expedient Passive Protection Program. “It was valuable being able to get real-time feedback on what they liked and didn’t like, as well as suggestions and improvements for the systems.”

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The Ready Armor Protection for Instant Deployment, or RAPID, system is a barricade system meant to provide rapidly deployable, instant protection along roadways or at checkpoints. Packaged inside a small container, the RAPID system unfolds accordion-style to minimize the logistical burden and manpower needed to reach an instant level of protection. The RAPID system is deployable in 18 minutes, with an increased level of protection in just 21 minutes. One RAPID kit provides up to 35 feet of protection.

The Expedient Retrofit for Existing Buildings, or EREB, system provides an additional layer of protection to Soldiers inside buildings. The EREB system consists of a metal frame designed to hold protective paneling. The paneling protects Soldiers from ballistics and fragmentation weapons. A 10-foot section of the EREB system can be constructed in under 30 minutes.

The opportunity to test new equipment and provide feedback is beneficial to both the researcher and the user. “It’s fabulous,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Wittman, 412th Theater Engineer Command. “Regardless of what your rank is you always have valuable input, and that input needs to be spoken, because it does make a difference in the equipment that we use, as well as how the equipment is made.”

The feedback Pezzola and the ERDC design team received was overwhelmingly positive. The soldiers said the systems were simple and intuitive, two things that have great value in the field.

“ERDC works closely with the warfighter, and we try to understand the warfighter’s needs out in the field,” Pezzola said. “We have a lot of retired Soldiers that work at ERDC, in addition to the world’s leaders in blast and ballistic mitigation and characterization which allows us to merge our expertise together in order to suit the operational and technical needs of the warfighter.”