The Fox Nuclear Biological and Chemical (NBC) Reconnaissance Vehicle was the most sophisticated and technically complex piece of chemical detection equipment that the US used in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. "These vehicles were dedicated systems of NBC detection, warning, and sampling equipment integrated into a high speed, high mobility, wheeled, armored carrier capable of performing NBC reconnaissance on primary, secondary, or cross-country routes." They were designed to provide an initial alerting mechanism to warn personnel of the possible presence of dangerous chemicals, and provide a detailed confirmation capability by means of on-board mass spectrometers. These vehicles were state-of-the-art chemical reconnaissance systems and a quantum leap in technology over existing US capabilities. Other detection equipment aboard the Fox include the M43A1 Chemical Agent Detector, the M256 Series Chemical Agent Detector Kit, the AN/VDR2 radiation detector, and the ASG1 radiation detector. However, the Fox did not provide a biological detection capability. The Fox vehicle was used according to the context of each military operation. Tactics associated with an operation often restricted the operation of the Fox vehicle to less than its full capability to detect chemical agents.
The Fox was designed as a reconnaissance system, with a primary function to detect, identify, and mark persistent ground contaminated areas. Although it could detect chemical warfare agent vapors, the basic Fox with its MM-1 mass spectrometer was not optimized for this purpose. During Operation Desert Storm, the Fox was used as a reconnaissance vehicle, as a mobile vapor detector, and as a spot detector to confirm detections from other equipment. The Fox with its MM-1 performed a quick survey check for the presence of chemicals chosen as the most likely to be present. If an alert occurred during this quick survey, a more time-consuming spectrum was necessary for confirmation. During Operation Desert Storm, interfering chemicals such as oil well fire smoke posed difficulties for the Foxs detection capabilities.
The following paper gives a more technical and in-depth explanation of the Fox Vehicle, how it detects chemicals, its capabilities, and its use during Operation Desert Storm.