Non-Intrusive Inspection Technology, Inc (NIITEK)
by Juan Navarro – Executive Vice President & General Manager
NIITEK was founded in the year 2000 and acquired by the Chemring Group in December 2008. NIITEK’s sole focus has been to be the world leader in developing and manufacturing vehicle mounted mine and buried explosive hazard detection (also known as mines) systems.
Mines have threatened the lives of peacekeepers and civilians around the world. They are an indiscriminant killer that causes over half of the NATO troop casualties in the battle against terrorism, and they kill or maim thousands of innocent civilians in the world’s mine infested countries annually.
Historically, mines have primarily been detected by metal detectors that are not successful against low-metallic and nonmetallic threats. In addition, even for metallic threats, the resulting false alarm rates have made route clearance and area clearance a slow, tedious, and dangerous process.
After years of development by NIITEK and its founders with the US Army Countermine Divisions at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, USA, a breakthrough was demonstrated in 2003 where detection and false alarm rates were vastly improved – “almost two orders of magnitude better than the competition.”
These breakthrough systems are based on a ground penetrating radar (GPR) sensor technology that was developed specifically for detecting metallic and non-metallic mines.
The detection kits have several components to include: NIITEK’s proprietary GPR sensor technology, sophisticated automatic target recognition (ATR) algorithms, automatic marking, and a clever automatic ground tracking and damage control carrier bracket. All of these are monitored and controlled by a user-friendly graphical touch-screen interface that lets the operator “see” under the ground.
NIITEK’s kits are vehicle agnostic and are mounted on small, medium, and large vehicles that are remotely controlled or manned and blast protected. In late 2008, the Husky-mounted system (HMDS), shown to the below, was deployed in the War on Terror. The performance was outstanding and route clearance troops and top level commanders were elated with the advanced capabilities over the prior metal-detector based systems. This success has led to production contracts for many units that are being filled by NIITEK’s production facility in Charlottesville, Virginia.
NIITEK’s systems are a humanitarian product that helps combat terrorism and make the world a safer place for innocent civilians throughout the world. NIITEK has seen steady growth in its first few months as Chemring’s latest acquisition. In the last several months NIITEK has been awarded over $50M in contracts, to build, deliver and support the HMDS GPR kits in theatre.
During this ramp up, NIITEK has successfully transitioned from an exclusive research and development (R&D) company to an efficient production company delivering systems on schedule. These new systems open exciting new markets for NIITEK and other subsidiaries of Chemring.
Fred Clodfelter is a co-founder of NIITEK and has been managing the company since inception. He remains as the President, with Juan Navarro as Executive Vice President and General Manager, and Mark Hibbard as Executive Vice President Technology.