Support: November 26, 2004


U.S. troops in Iraqi are using a unique mine detection device, the Meerkat. The odd looking vehicle detects landmines on dirt roads, and is designed to not set them off while rolling over them. If the Meerkat does set off a mine, or roadside bomb, it is designed to survive the blast. The key to all this is a blast-deflecting V-shaped hull on an open-framed vehicle. Thus there is little resistance to blast, with the shockwave just blowing past the vehicle. The three ton Meerkat has large, wide tires that exert too little ground pressure to detonate most pressure activated mines. The Meerkat has a metal detector and ground penetrating radar system mounted across its front, and can scan the road for mines while moving at up to 35 kilometers an hour (about 30 feet per second). The Meerkat marks the location of the mines, and lets mine clearing vehicles behind it take care of the explosive device. The Meerkats are also armored, and can handle most roadside bombs as well. The Meerkats used in Iraq have survived several explosions. Normally, the Meerkat has a one man crew, but it can also be operated remotely from a vehicle traveling behind it. 

The Meerkat is popular with peacekeeping operations and for clearing mines in nations that have a lot of them in the ground. The U.S. Army is using Meerkat as a starting point in designing a new remotely controlled mine detection vehicle. 


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