What is the I-Rod?

February 24, 2009 9:15:18 PM PST
You have likely heard of A-Rod, short for baseball's Alex Rodriguez, but you probably never have heard of "l-Rod". It's not a somebody, rather a something that is saving lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it's made right here in Texas. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

It's almost as though they've reinvented the wheel.

"It's deceptively simple," said Kent Jacobson of BAE Systems

Yet so effective. This is what they call the l-Rod.

"It's really the only type of armor of its kind," said Keith Holliday of BAE Systems. "l-Rod is a rocket propelled grenade defense."

A series of aluminum rods that can protect armored vehicles and the soldiers or marines they carry.

"It's surprising how much physics, metallurgy, and design engineering goes into such a simple solution," said Jacobson.

Production began within the last week in Austin at a company called BAE Systems. They are a defense contractor.

"Our overarching mission is to protect those who protect us," said Jacobson.

BAE Systems is building 200 of the I-Rods for the marines and the army.

Holliday said, "This hardware is designed obviously to save lives. That's the most exciting part about it."

BAE is in talks to build another 600.

"When you talk about uniqueness of a product to BAE Systems, this is nothing like what we've ever done before," said Holliday/

Once all of the pieces are fabricated, they're put into boxes along with the nuts, the bolts, and the fasteners. Then they go into large crates. Essentially one kit is enough for one vehicle.

The kits weigh an average of 1,700 pounds, which is incredibly light for what they do.

If an RPG targets an l-Rod outfitted vehicle and the nose hits between the bars, the fuses can ignite and there's no explosion.

The I-Rod has also created work for people who need it.

"Obviously the ramp-up of this has allowed us to go hire people out of the local Austin area," said Holliday. "We brought in 20 new people immediately just for this facility alone."

That's not including the suppliers and the subcontractors it takes to build the l-Rod.

BAE Systems won't reveal the cost of producing the l-Rod, but the company says that stopping one RPG pays for the device on roughly 1,000 vehicles.

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