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Munitions Tracking System Uses EM Rather than RFID

Feb. 26, 2014
RuBee tagging and tracking technology uses a wireless visibility tag and magnetic fields, allowing for greater security compared to traditional RFID methods.
Lockheed Martin’s smart racks allow for users to physically audit items without human help.

A new approach to tracking munitions and other assets in sensitive environments uses magnetic fields as opposed to traditional radio-frequency-identification (RFID) technology. The tagging and tracking solution, known as RuBee, is based on the IEEE 1902.1 wireless protocol standard. It was developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin and Visible Assets for use in high security U.S. government and international facilities.

RuBee can be used to identify and track a variety of sensitive items including fused ordnances, firearms, night-vision goggles, and flack jackets. Each item is matched with a wireless visibility tag that can be read and located anytime from the network. Using electromagnetic (EM) waveforms rather than RF signals (which can more readily be intercepted) allows for higher levels of security. Data passed through the system is handled in a manner similar to a secure peer-to-peer network, leaving it less vulnerable to outside access.

Tests of the RuBee tags were completed by the U.S. Navy, which concluded that the system posed no risk to munitions and had no negative effects on military fuel. Under the Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordinance (HERO), the Navy found no required safe separation distance between the technology and munitions—other approaches have required 3-12 feet in distance to prevent inadvertent activation or disablement. Lack of separation distance allows for real-time audits and higher accountability and pedigree.

A typical application involves the Lockheed Martin Armory, which allows tagged items to be networked and housed on “smart racks.” The smart racks allow for users to physically audit all items several times throughout the day without human help or intervention. The solution can also be used to ensure the readiness and maintenance of weapons. Using the same technology as RuBee, the Allegro Weapon Shot Counting technology can identify optimal maintenance periods for weapon parts, as well as detecting anomalies that can lead to failure. Statistics and readings can be gathered on how rounds are fired, providing warning signs for requiring cleaning, gas port erosion, and cracked bolts.

About the Author

Iliza Sokol | Associate Digital Editor

Iliza joined the Penton Media group in 2013 after graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BS in Advertising and Marketing Communications. Prior to joining the staff, she worked at NYLON Magazine and a ghostwriting firm based in New York.

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