Support: August 31, 2002

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The fighting in Afghanistan reminded everyone that mines are still a major hazard on the battlefield (despite efforts to get landmines banned.) The current mine clearing systems, for getting things done in a hurry, rely on explosive cable fired onto a mined area (using a small rocket) and then detonated. The 110 meter long cable contains 1,840 pounds of C-4 explosive. It can clear a path up to 14 meters wide (7 meters on each side of the cable) and 100 meters long through a minefield. The explosion sets off most of the mines. Then an armored vehicle pushing a heavy metal roller "proofs" a lane through the mine field that anyone can use. This two step process often takes too long, and U.S. Army Engineers have long wanted to develop a faster method. The Explosive Standoff Minefield Breacher (ESMB) system, using a net like system containing small shaped charges, will destroy 95 percent of the mines in the area it is used on. But this still requires a metal roller to proof the lane. More exotic systems that can attack the mine fuze are in the works. But at the moment, there's no easy way to deal with landmines.


 


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