MITRE, the Department of Homeland Security and Defense Department are researching ways to improve intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities underground to help border control and security forces detect tunnels, C4ISR & Networks reported Friday.
Aram Roston reports that the Rapid Reaction Tunnel Detection program of MITRE, U.S. Northern Command and DHS’ science and technology directorate is centered on finding hollow spaces underground using geophysics and computer simulation.
“If you don’t understand the geophysics associated with the different type of sensor you are using and the earth you are actually standing on, then you won’t be able to discriminate between targets and clutter,” said David Masters, a senior program adviser at DHS.
Masters has been using simulations to test the ability of seismic and ground-penetrating radars and sensors to detect tunnels on mapped geology, a method that he says requires further development to distinguish rocks and other natural parts of the terrain from underground tunnels.
He noted that previous technology used by miners to locate mineral and oil deposits are not tailored to search for hollow spaces, and that most previous tunnel discoveries have been mainly the result of gathered intelligence or accidental factors.
Roston reports that tunnels have been used in drug smuggling, prison escapes and other illegal activities.