Peacekeeping: Ground Penetrating Radar for Peace


August 16, 2006: The U.S. Department of Defense has become the single largest supporter of demining in the world, spending over $100 million a year to support third-party demining efforts in over a dozen countries. There are still millions of mines in the ground around the world. Most of these are Cold War era Russian and Chinese mines. These weapons were cheap and easily available to leftist dictators and rebel movements. Russia also liberally used them in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
The United States has provided money to train and pay local deminers. But the U.S. has also provided state-of-the-art mine detection equipment, as well as spending over a hundred million dollars on research into new mine detection techniques. While this research and equipment is mainly for American troops, most of it benefits poor nations struggling to get rid of these mines. For example, the U.S. is buying nearly 20,000 of the new AN/PSS-14 Mine Detectors, with most of them going to demining efforts in countries that cannot afford the expense of finding and destroying all the mines. The AN/PSS-14 looks like a larger versions of the metal detectors you see people sweeping across the beach. The eight pound AN/PSS-14 is similar to those civilian units, but with some major differences. In addition to being more sensitive to metal, the AN/PSS-14 also includes a ground penetrating radar for detecting non-metallic mines. The AN/PSS-14 is also expensive, costing about $18,000 per detector (and some accessories).
The United States is also providing training, and more exotic gear like robots and chemical detectors. Current plans are for this demining aid to continue for at least another ten years.




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