Cable Guys

Air Force Research Lab engineers responded quickly to a warfighter need by designing a new simple, lightweight, and user-friendly cable, dubbed “Grab M,” that enables joint terminal attack controllers to transfer target location data for directing airstrikes from their laser range finders to their laptop computers much more quickly and easily than with the predecessor cables. Speed and ease of use are critical for these airmen, as every second counts when they call in close air support in the heat of combat. AFRL came up with a prototype of the cable and then turned to Future Technology Devices International, Ltd., a United Kingdom-based manufacturer, that ruggedized the design and subsequently built the production units. Beyond performance, Grab M’s price tag is impressive, costing about $17 per unit compared to $500 to $1,000 for a cable with similar functionality. (Wright Patterson report by John Schutte)