Explosive devices such as improvised explosive devices (IEDs) threaten the lives of emergency responders at home and claim the lives and limbs of American troops abroad. These threats may be addressed by making them unable to explode, taking them away from the scene, and exploding them in a safe place. Making a device unable to explode can be accomplished by a disablement tool. However, shortcomings in current disablement tools make them unable to defeat many devices being encountered.
Sandia researchers have addressed this problem by creating Stingray, the first coherent fluid blade disablement tool based on technology that forms water from the disablement tool into a single blade capable of actually cutting through one-quarter-inch steel. The efficient design enables greater penetration than other disablement tools while using the same explosive. Unlike other technologies, Stingray can be easily positioned at the most effective distance from its target. When Stingray is detonated, a wall of water shoots out the back and is capable of disabling not only munitions but also “soft targets” such as backpacks, where tearing, not cutting, is necessary.
TEAM Technologies, Inc., of Albuquerque, N.M., negotiated a license with Sandia to make and sell Stingray. Sandia worked closely with TEAM to transfer the information needed to improve and produce Stingray and sell it to the explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) community. TEAM enhanced Stingray’s performance in battlefield situations by making it more durable, so it is easier to place in position using a common method of positioning disablement tools: a robot. The strong collaboration between TEAM and Sandia enabled rapid commercialization, requiring only seven months from the signing of the licensing agreement in January 2010 to delivery of the first products to soldiers in July 2010.
This commercialization effort has incredible benefits. America’s military requested Stingray for the battlefield after discovering it while training at Sandia, and this commercialization satisfies that demand. Over 7,000 Stingray units have already been shipped and are saving lives in war zones. TEAM also has commitments to purchase approximately 500 Tactical Stingrays, the pocket-sized version, and is actively pursuing production; and it anticipated the ability to produce the Tactical Stingray by August 2010.