OCCASIONAL PAPER SERIES 1:
Survey of Mine Clearance Technology
By J . A. Craib
[The United Nations University
The United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs]
The study was conducted by J.A. Craib, BARIC (Consultants) Ltd.
of the United Kingdom for the United Nations University
and the United Nations Department of Humanitarian Affairs.
- THE REQUIREMENT
- THE MILITARY POSITION
- POSSIBLE DETECTION TECHNOLOGIES
- POSSIBLE CLEARANCE TECHNOLOGIES
- ROBOTICS TECHNOLOGY
- THE WAY FORWARD
- SCOPE OF THE STUDY
- AIM OF THE REPORT
- ACTION PLAN
- THE MINES SITUATION
- ANTI TANK MINES
- ANTI PERSONNEL MINES
- THE MUNITIONS SITUATION
- UNEXPLODED EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE
- MUNITIONS ITIONS HELD IN STORAGE
- NEW EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS
- ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT
- HIGHLY DESIRABLE
- MINE DETECTION
- CURRENT MINE DETECTION TECHNOLOGIES
- Mine Detectors
- Bomb Locators
- Various Applications of These Principles
- MOST PROMISING DETECTION TECHNOLOGIES
- Infra Red (IR) or Thermal Imaging (TI)
- Visible Spectrum Photography
- Ground Penetrating Radar
- Photon Backscatter
- Nuclear Physics
- HAND CLEARANCE
- CURRENT MECHANICAL CLEARANCE EQUIPMENT
- Seek and Destroy Techniques
- Explosive Techniques
- Lasers and 'Spoofs'
POSSIBLE ADVANCES FOR MINE CLEARANCE
HIGH POWER MICROWAVES
- POSSIBLE FUTURE USES OF ROBOTICS
- THE VIEW OF THE MILITARY
- THE HUMAN INTERFACE
- THE WAY FORWARD
1. The worldwide problem created by land-mines put into the ground during a conflict and just left there once the conflict had ended is well known. A US State Department survey has identified about 66 countries with a known problem. The work being undertaken by various organizations to remove these mines is gaining greater public recognition and there are signs that donors are willing to invest in this work as a precursor to the more traditional humanitarian work. There is, however, some concern at the slow speed with which this work can be done and with the variable degree of certainty that an area has no more mines once the work has been completed.
2. Although they are criticized for using mines, it is the military which has done most to find ways of removing them. Unfortunately there is a difference in requirement between the military and the humanitarian communities. The former are, usually, only interested in clearing a path (breaching) through a minefield which is in their way. other mines are of little consequence. The humanitarian community is very much concerned about all the mines in an area. Military equipment is designed for the military requirement, leaving the humanitarian community to make whatever use it can of equipment which may not meet their precise need. Largely because of this, much civilian mine clearance is done by hand, using a hand probe to look for mines. This is very slow and dangerous.
3. Both communities recognize that the equipment available today has not kept pace with advances in technology. To remedy this, the military is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in research and development. To date, the humanitarian community is investing none. The UN, representing the latter group, recognizes that more needs to be done and has commissioned this study into the potential of new technologies to improve mine detection and mine clearance equipment.
4. The aim of this report is two-fold:
- To outline the relevant technologies with potential to improve mine detection and mine clearance equipment and to suggest which show the most promise.
- To suggest how new equipments can best be produced using these selected technologies.
5. Before looking at new technologies and how they can used in new equipments, it is important to decide what equipments are required. This is a subject which merits broader discussion than the aim of this study will allow. The following is a list devised by the author based on discussions during recent fora. Whatever the merit of his choice, it forms the basis of later analysis of technologies. Any disagreements are likely to be ones of priority. There are other equipments, such as personal protection, which, though essential are not included in this list.
Their technologies do not form part of this study because suitable equipment already exists, developed for other purposes but of immediate use in mine clearance.
- a. Essential. The ability to detect non-metallic and metallic mines with a single equipment. A mechanical equipment capable of clearing buried and surface laid mines to an agreed level of efficiency.
- b. Highly Desirable. A remote system for detecting the position and perimeter of minefields. The ability to operate the essential equipments remotely. A stand-off system for destroying mines in-situ.
- c. Desirable. The robotic mapping of minefields and mines. The robotic destruction of mines.
6. These requirements, if met, will probably need sophisticated equipments. They will require a high level of maintenance skill and their support costs will be high. one of the underlying principles of the humanitarian community is to develop equipment with which local people in distressed countries, once trained, can carry on working after expatriates depart. However, some of these countries will be unable to provide the necessary maintenance skills and may be unable to provide sufficient security to protect them from theft or abuse.
Consideration must be given at the appropriate time to the capabilities of the end-user.
THE MILITARY POSITION
7. As already stated, the military are investing vast sums of money in research and development and this study would be flawed if their work were not discussed. Those which have so far invested most of the money are, in the main, those which are also drastically reducing their forces and their military expenditure. Research and development budgets have been hard hit and many projects have been cancelled and many more are under real risk of cancellation. It is inevitable that work taking place to meet new, and existing, breaching requirements will suffer also.
8. Normally, the military are very reluctant to discuss their work, partly for perceived security reasons, but also because of the risk to their intellectual property rights. However, the author had substantial discussions with a number of research agencies and was heartened by their open attitude.
9. In the US, for example, Congress has voted funds for humanitarian mine clearance, and preliminary discussions suggest that they would be happy to work within an international grouping, sharing some research information.
POSSIBLE DETECTION TECHNOLOGIES
10. Current mine detection technology has probably reached its effective limit. The ever increasing use of minimum metal mines has stretched to the limit the ability of the detectors to find very small amounts of metal. It is technically possible to manufacture mines with no metal at all making the present equipment obsolete. It is a new technology which will hold the answer to the detection of these mines. It is generally accepted by the research community that no single technology will meet all the detection requirements. Two, or more, technologies may be needed to give the required capability.
11. There is no clear consensus amongst the scientific community about which technologies show the most promise. However, two of the most promising sensor technologies are infra red (IR) and ground penetrating radar (GPR). Both have attracted substantial funding and research effort and both have been shown to work, albeit with some limitations. There are other technologies, such as micro-waves and some applications of nuclear physics, which may eventually prove to be successful but they are not as advanced in the development cycle and carry a higher risk of failure.
12. Technologies, such IR and GPR, share at least two features in common - both have limitations, and both need substantial data processing. There may, therefore, be scope for combining them. It is not entirely clear whether the limitations occur under the same circumstances but the aim must be to find technologies which are, at least to some degree, complementary, i.e., one is effective when the other is not. There is some doubt whether a common data processing system is realistic but the indications are encouraging. If this aspiration were successful it would allow the development of a multi-sensor detector which both the military and commercial sectors believe to be the way forward.
13. To progress this, a consensus should be sought on the most promising combination of technologies for mine detection (GPR and IR is one such possible combination). Resources should then be applied to develop a multi-sensor detector served by a common data processor.
14. The remote detection of minefields is possibly realistic by the turn of the century under military research and may be of direct benefit for humanitarian use without further development. However, the cost of such a system is likely to be prohibitive and may well remain beyond the procurement capacity of the humanitarian community. The same situation applies to any equipment developed for the remote mapping of minefields. However, the potential benefit of these equipments will be considerable if they can be made available outside the military domain.
POSSIBLE CLEARANCE TECHNOLOGIES
15. There is no realistic alternative available in the foreseeable future to the present clearance techniques. A solution to the need for a reliable method of mechanical clearance is bedeviled by the clearance efficiency expected by the humanitarian community. The requirement that equipment is highly efficient is obvious; every mine missed is a potential tragedy for someone. Nevertheless, present realities indicate that mechanical clearance is unlikely ever to be as efficient as hand clearance but it is very much quicker. The UN has stated a required efficiency of 99.8% which, whilst feasible for hand clearance, is unrealistic for current mechanical systems. Military research is targeted at their breaching needs and is based on acceptance that a high efficiency may not be achievable given the operational scenario in which the equipment will be used. It is possible that a future military equipment will easily satisfy the need of the humanitarian community but, if not, it is unlikely that military funds will be available to make the necessary improvements. Applying a version of Parieto's Law: a 20% improvement in the level of efficiency may take 80% of the total cost.
16. Since there is no clear answer at the moment, progress being made through military research should be monitored. Some attention should be paid to the possible use of high power microwaves. At the same time, the humanitarian community should decide the operational requirement of the mechanical equipment it considers acceptable and discuss it with industry to see what can be realistically achieved.
17. Remote control of most equipments is quite feasible. However, as an example, the benefit of mounting a mine detector on a remotely controlled vehicle is very doubtful. Careful consideration must be given to decide whether the anticipated reduction in risk to the operator justifies the added cost and possible reduction in efficiency.
18. Genuine robotics is very much more difficult, and will be very expensive. It is very doubtful in the foreseeable future whether the humanitarian community will have access to such equipment. Even more so than for remote control, a careful cost/benefit analysis must be made before the necessary capital investment is made. Some research is taking place, most of it in its infancy. Like airborne detection, robotic equipment may be beyond the procurement capacity of the humanitarian community.
19. A cost/benefit analysis should be made to determine to what extent remote control and the future application of robotics will benefit mine clearance. Following this analysis, remote control is readily available and the progress in military robotics research should be monitored.
THE WAY FORWARD
20. The overwhelming impression the author has gained throughout this study is the need to develop a partnership with the military and, in particular, with their research bodies. Bearing in mind the vast sums of money being spent by the military in general, and the US in particular, it would be nonsense to ignore such a possibility. Ideally, a forum should be set up comprising the US, the UN and other interested countries to progress the development of humanitarian mine clearance equipment.
21. Although countries like the US may be willing to participate in such a forum, fiscal stringency places constraints on their ability to provide new funding. Additional funding will be required because many of the future equipments will be expensive to develop and, probably, even more expensive to manufacture in the quantities which will be required. There is limited value in developing equipment then to find no money exists to buy them. There may be governments, limited in the amount of practical assistance they can provide in distressed countries, which may be willing to assist a humanitarian mine clearance equipment procurement programme.
1. It is widely acknowledged within the humanitarian mine clearance community and, indeed, within the military community, that equipment available for locating and subsequently removing land-mines is outdated. In many cases, the technologies employed by equipment now in use, even by technically advanced armies, have changed little since World War II. By way of just one example, the British Army is still officially equipped with a hand held mine detector which first came into service in 1954. The humanitarian mine clearance community depends, to a very large extent, on equipment developed for military use which it then uses for its own purposes. However, despite this sometime common usage, there are two distinctly different philosophies which may make finding a solution for humanitarian needs more difficult.
2. The military imperative is to ensure that mines laid by the enemy (or themselves) do not hinder their operations. They have little need to concern themselves otherwise. Sometimes a victorious army will clear all these mines but a defeated army rarely will. Most of their equipment is designed to meet their narrow aim of breaching. What happens to the other mines which do not impede their operations is of little interest to them. Many would wish this otherwise but the truth is demonstrated by the number of mines laid in the ground around the world still waiting for clearance. By contrast, the humanitarian community is very much concerned about those mines ignored by the military. However, whilst the military has the resources to develop equipment for their purposes, the humanitarian community has not sought to use any funds to develop equipment for its own particular uses.
3. Part of the discussion in this report will consider how a relationship with the military can be developed to improve this situation. This will be based on three key factors. Firstly, military budgets are in steep decline in much of the developed world leaving insufficient funds to meet military requirements. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of mines related research takes place under the auspices of the military, using their funds. Thirdly, the vast majority of mine clearance is left to the humanitarian community or to commercial organizations.
SCOPE OF THE STUDY
4. There is a great deal of work going on throughout the world in subjects relevant to this project. Unfortunately, due to various time and resource constraints it was possible to survey only a portion of the work being carried out worldwide. Still, the entities consulted provide an appropriate basis for a solid overview of the question.
5. The vast majority of this work takes place within the military arena and some of the work is classified, with huge sums of money being invested. It would not be surprising for the agencies involved to be protective of their work. In the event, most military agencies were remarkably open about many of their projects although they limited themselves to general statements of intent in some cases.
6. In the civil arena there was the understandable problem of protecting intellectual property rights and commercial interests and industry was clearly protective of the potential rewards of their work.
7. The author was given access to much privileged information, some commercial-in-confidence and some classified. This was permitted on the understanding that the sensitive material would not be reproduced in a way which breached the caveats. Also, it was agreed that the documents in question would not be quoted as footnotes or in a bibliography. Therefore, there are many statements made in this report which are not supported by a quoted document. Whilst this may be considered unsatisfactory, the benefit of obtaining the information, even with this limitation, outweighed the disadvantage.
8. The author is not a scientist but has a mine clearance background. The extracts from literature quoted in this report and the analysis of them are based on a mine clearance perspective whilst trying to do justice to the technical details given. Any imperfections viewed from a scientific perspective are unintentional.
9. A large number of abbreviations and acronyms will be used throughout this report. The first time each is used, it will be explained in full but thereafter only the shorter form will be given. To assist the reader in understanding them, all the abbreviations and acronyms used in this report are listed in Annex A.
l0. Mine Clearance or Demining. 'Demining' is a relatively new word which has entered the vocabulary and is taken to mean the complete removal of mines in an area for humanitarian purposes. Sometimes the phrase 'mine eradication' is used for the same purpose. The author favours the use of 'mine clearance' which, when used in the military or humanitarian arenas, means the complete removal of mines within a specified area. Considering the plethora of specialized words, phrases, acronyms and abbreviations already in existence, the author will only use the term mine clearance except when another author is being directly quoted.
ll. Explosive ordnance Disposal (EOD). This is sometimes still known as bomb disposal, but the current NATO term of EOD is partially defined as:
The detection, identification, field evaluation, rendering-safe, recovery and final disposal of unexploded explosive ordnance.
Clearly, land-mines are one example of unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) and mine clearance is one aspect of EOD. However, for simplicity throughout this report, the terms EOD and UXO will be used to refer to matters other than land-mines.
12. Clearance Efficiency. This is defined as the percentage of the total number of mines laid which have been removed from the ground and destroyed. This is an important concept, fundamental to later discussions. It is a necessary measure of the quality of clearance but, arguably, can be relatively meaningless. The definition assumes that the number of mines in any area is known, which is rarely the case. How is the efficiency of an operation actually proved? What is the attitude of donors when a missed mine is found later or, sadly, someone is killed or injured by such a mine? There is no easy answer until better equipment is available which will improve detection and clearance rates. In the Falkland Islands, after the war with Argentina, the British Government demanded an efficiency of 99.995% (it was permissible to miss one mine in 20,000). This was not achievable then, and still is not, and the minefields are still there. This has been acceptable in the Falkland Islands because the minefields are at least surrounded by fences which are regularly maintained. In many other countries with a severe mine problem, any fences erected will be stolen as a scarce and valuable commodity leaving the population and livestock at continuing risk. Despite all these difficulties, clearance efficiency remains a necessary measure of the quality of work done but caution should be exercised in its use.
AIM OF THE REPORT
13. The aim of this report is to present an analysis of the technologies currently being exploited for mine detection and mine clearance purposes; those technologies not being exploited and which may have potential; and to recommend possible strategies to improve the equipment situation for clearing mines in a humanitarian context.
14. The plan devised to meet the requirements of this study was designed to fulfil, as best as possible, the following objectives:
a. Literature Search. This was the stated contract requirement. Those open publications thought likely to be helpful and which were scanned in some detail are listed at Annex C. Extensive use was made of the library facilities at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London. To read all the publications as far back as copies were held would have swamped the resources of the researcher for little information return. It was decided therefore to limit the review to the publications published since January 1 990. In the event, very few actually provided any articles of substantial value.
b. Contact with Industry. once the lack of information to be gained from the literature search was realized, it was decided to contact those companies and agencies which were known to the researcher. It was hoped in this way to gain a perspective of what industry was doing and what it hoped to achieve. of the 60 organizations contacted 26 responded and about 20 were helpful.
c. Contact with Government Research Agencies. The information is essentially limited to the USA and the UK. However, at the same time, it was possible to attend symposia held respectively by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Swedish National Defence Research Establishment (FOA) and GPR '94 (a symposium on ground penetrating radar). These provided access to officials from other research establishments attending these symposia. It is recognized that there are other government research agencies which are doing valuable work and it is hoped that the future life of this project will allow these to be approached. The response from those contacted was very helpful, in the main, and provided the major input to this report.
THE MINES SITUATION
15. This report will not discuss in detail the mine types which create difficulties in many countries throughout the world. There are a number of publications which already do this very adequately. However, finding ways of reducing these mine related difficulties without understanding at least something of them may lead to misunderstanding. A brief analysis is given below and this is considered sufficient for the purpose of this report. A list of countries believed to have a mines problem is given in Annex D.
16. World War I, with the introduction of mechanized armour and the expansion of trench warfare, also saw the introduction and development of improvised antitank (AT) mines. In the years following World War I, mechanized armour evolved into the dominant force on the battlefield, and tactics of mobility, speed and fire-power have become the predominant concerns of battlefield commanders. AT mines have, as a consequence, become an increasingly important weapon. AT mines kill tanks, delay enemy forces, deny area of access and, channel the enemy into routes which provide advantages to friendly forces. Antipersonnel (AP) mines have been developed as complementary weapons to AT mines to inhibit the clearing of AT mines, harass and destroy infantry units, and to deny area access to ground troops. During the 1970s, new types of AP mine were developed which more effectively offset enemy manpower advantages and to deny logistic access routes to the enemy. Prior to this, mines were manually emplaced and armed. However, scatterable mines can be deployed from aircraft and dropped behind enemy lines into rear echelons. This also was one of the first uses of self-sterilization devices, which limited the threat posed to people who would enter the area after military operations were concluded. The 1980s saw the introduction of a new breed of mines, which could be deployed from artillery, aircraft and ground vehicles, as well as manually. These mines employ influence sensors for tank detection and incorporate electronic timers to initiate self destruction at predesignated times. These mines have created a new dimension in mine warfare. Not only can they be used in the traditional way, by outnumbered forces, but they can also be used to rapidly create a temporary minefield in remote areas. In the 1970s and 1980s low metallic content mines made of plastics and ceramic components, which had seen limited use since the l940s, began to proliferate. These mines are inexpensive to make and difficult to detect.
17. These mines are designed to incapacitate tanks and other vehicles either by destroying the track or wheels (immobilising the vehicle) or by penetrating the hull, causing the death of the occupants. Early versions relied upon blast effects to incapacitate the vehicle. Blast mines, which are the most commonly found AT mines, tend to be heavy (weighing up to 14 kg) because
they use a large amount of explosive to obtain the pressures needed for desired effects. These mines are mechanically fuzed to trigger upon contact with the vehicle. other AT mines rely on the projection of a metal slug or jet to penetrate the vehicle hull. While some of these mines have mechanized fuzes (tilt rods), they generally have magnetic sensors and electronic components. AT mines, primarily incapacitate their targets by attack from below (the tank must pass over the mine to initiate it). Alternate modes of attack are side attack and top attack. Side attack mines rely upon the firing of a projectile into the side of a tank as it passes a sensor. Side attack mines generally have a 50-l00 metre range. They will probably not present a significant demining problem because there is less risk of abandonment due to their cost and short life as they are battery powered. Top attack mines rely upon sophisticated technology and are still in development. They will not be deployed for a number of years and their expense makes their widespread and uncontrolled use very unlikely. It is unlikely that these mines will be a problem within the context of demining. Manually emplaced AT mines may be secondarily-fuzed (or booby trapped) to prevent removal. Those mines fuzed with these anti-handling devices (AHD) will detonate if disturbed, making mine clearance much more difficult to accomplish. Advanced scatterable mines may include integral electronic AHDs.
ANTI PERSONNEL MINES
18. These mines are designed to kill or incapacitate people. There are generally two types of AP mine: those relying strictly on blast effects, and those throwing out lethal fragments. The blast type AP mine relies upon the individual soldier stepping on it to trigger detonation. Blast effects can vary, from incapacitation and trauma, to loss of life, depending on the size of the charge and the circumstances of initiation. Fragmenting AP mines throw out a spray of lethal fragments, steel balls or pellets. Many of these mines have bounding features, providing increased range and lethality. The mines are triggered by various means, ranging from direct contact to pulling or severing a trip line to command detonation.
19. Submunitions are a contentious subject because many consider them to be mines, and in some respects they act in exactly the same way. There is little merit in discussing in this report the relative differences between them. It is a reasonable compromise to accept that both mines and submunitions come from similar groups of munition, and that, in some cases their roles are similar. In other cases their roles are quite dissimilar. The following extract summarises some key points about submunitions.
Submunitions are not a particularly new phenomenon but their profile has been raised over recent years because of the perceived similarity to mines. After the Gulf War, although the major problems which faced those clearing UXO was mines, nevertheless, submunitions caused many problems. Those which did not detonate as expected - normally on impact with their target - stuck in the ground and it was not unusual for them to detonate if they were mishandled. In a real sense, they were acting like mines, even if that was not their original intention.
The interest of the ICRC, so far as mines are concerned, is well known. The lack of a clear difference between them and submunitions has caused alarm that a possible inhumane
weapon may miss attempts at prohibition. However, it is here that the two diverge [in similarity]. Mines are cheap, can be laid by hand, they are easy to manufacture and were given, in their millions, as part of military aid packages.
Submunitions are different. They are very expensive to manufacture and require sophisticated engineering facilities. Most often they must be delivered by aircraft. They were very rarely given in aid packages because they were designed for use by their parent nation in potential wars of the utmost importance, such as that which might have taken place between NATO and the former Warsaw Pact. Their design and effects were likely to be classified. It is unlikely therefore that submunitions will be available to the nations which are, in the main, using land-mines to inhumane effect. There may be two exceptions; Afghanistan and Angola which saw direct action by forces from the Soviet Union and South Africa respectively.
THE MUNITIONS SITUATION
20. Almost by definition, when mines have been laid, some form of armed fighting has taken place. Inevitably such fighting will have left quantities of UXO. This UXO can present a severe problem. Munitions (which also include mines) are usually stockpiled in depots, often in appalling dangerous conditions, awaiting the time when they will be put to their designed use. Both these situations are discussed further below. The consideration of UXO, other than mines, is not a principal aim of this report; however, it is not practicable to consider one without the other for three major reasons:
- a. In the search for mines, it is sometimes essential to clear items of UXO which are either in the way or would continue to be an immediate hazard to local people.
- b. There are frequent deaths and injuries resulting from UXO, particularly grenades, which are attractive to children.
- c. Whether or not they are required to clear UXO, EOD personnel will, as a matter of course, either destroy those which pose an immediate risk to life or at least make them as safe as possible.
21. Except in specialised circumstances, there is no tactical advantage in having UXO on the ground. That is the role of mines which are also cheaper. UXO is therefore normally found in areas where combat took place or where troops were positioned. If these locations can be identified, then a systematic search of the area will clear many of the items.
22. The degree of hazard from UXO varies but in general terms they pose a smaller risk than mines. Many items will be relatively safe if left alone. Unfortunately, people in poorer countries often try to salvage the metal to sell and have been know to cut items open to get the explosives out. Bombs have been used as seats and shells as door-stops or weights to hold tarpaulins in place. other UXO is in a highly dangerous state; grenades with no safety pins or very corroded ones, 'weeping' explosives (the exudation is often a pure form of nitroglycerine) and detonators (they contain exceptionally sensitive explosives). Missiles are often still on launchers and, although they may no longer be capable of functioning, they still present a range of hazards. When a bomb or shell hits the ground it should usually explode (there are some exceptions). When this fails to happen, it is usually not possible to determine why. In some cases, a sharp knock will he sufficient to cause detonation.
UNEXPLODED EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE
23. Normally UXO refers to munitions which have been put to their designed use but failed to function properly. The term can also be used to describe munitions which have been taken onto the battlefield and not used but just left there. often it is not possible to distinguish one type from the other and it is normal practice to treat all munitions as UXO - as potentially very dangerous. The clearance of land in Kuwait resulted in many deaths from incidents related to UXO. Although detailed figures have not been seen by the author, it is possible that more deaths and injuries were due to UXO than mines. one of the most dangerous UXO found there is generally agreed to be submunitions dropped by aircraft. Many of these submunitions are designed to act as scatterable mines but many others were designed to detonate on impact but failed to do so. It is an accepted World War II figure that 10% of all munitions placed, fired or dropped failed to function as expected. Despite more advanced engineering, this figure is unlikely to have reduced substantially. There is a school of thought that the more advanced a technology, the greater the number of UXO which will result. Even when submunitions have not been used, other UXO create a severe hazard. Hand grenades in particular, are attractive to children who see them as playthings, often with tragic results. It is not uncommon for hand grenades to be found without their safety pins and only need slight movement to explode.
MUNITIONS HELD IN STORAGE
24. Stored munitions are only raised in this report because they present another potential hazard and are where unused mines will normally be kept. In some cases the location of these stores is known but this is not always the case because those exercising control over them are protective of their military resource. There are probably scores, and possibly many more of these stores throughout countries which have a mines problem and many of them are likely to be unsafe by normal standards. It is probably the case that sufficient munitions exist in these stores, including mines, to provide substantial support to further conflicts.
NEW EQUIPMENT REQUIREMENTS
25. Industry has stated clearly that before gaps in technology are identified, the humanitarian community should know what it wants that technology to do. In other words, the humanitarian community must first decide what equipment capabilities it needs. This is a subject which will undoubtedly merit considerable debate before a consensus is reached - NATO equipment fora can take many years to reach agreement on a single equipment- and clearly the author does not have that luxury. To provide some structure to this report, and to act as a basis for later debate, the author has devised a list of equipment capabilities which he believes reflects the needs of humanitarian users. Recent fora, , provided the author with some basis on which to devise the list which is otherwise his own view. Whatever the merit of his choice, it forms the basis of later analysis of technologies.
26. There are other equipments, such as personal protection, which, though essential are not included in this list. Their technologies do not form part of this study because suitable equipment already exists, developed for other purposes but of immediate use in mine clearance.
27. The task has been made simpler because, despite their different approaches to the problems of mines, many of the military requirements are directly mirrored by those in the civilian domain. However, writing a full Equipment Requirement document is a time consuming task needing a full understanding of what the user wants, the conditions in which the equipment will be used, who will use it, who will maintain it, how many are needed, how much it will cost, and so on. In almost all cases, a full justification must be given to persuade the fund holder (or donor) to spend the funds involved. None of this is provided here. The list below is broken into three sections; Essential, Highly Desirable, Desirable. This is a cascading selection process, particularly necessary when funds are short, which will always be the case. Normally, the items shown as Desirable rarely receive financial support but are still shown because their perceived importance might change as circumstances change.
28. Detecting Non-metallic and Metallic Mines. This is generally viewed as the greatest capability gap at present. It is already possible to detect metal mines but there is little point in developing a second system to detect minimum metal mines only. The need is to develop a single system to detect both. Whether it should be hand held or vehicle mounted is a matter for later debate and is of little importance at this stage. Either concept would allow very much quicker hand clearance.
29. Mechanical Clearance with a High Efficiency. With countless hectares of land requiring clearance around the world, unless a mechanical system is devised - with an acceptably high clearance efficiency - some will probably never be cleared. The equipment must be capable of clearing buried and surface laid AP and AT mines in a wide range of terrain and environmental conditions. It must keep environmental damage to a minimum.
30. Remote Detection of Minefield Perimeters. one the major problems facing those clearing mines is knowing where they are. This equipment would provide that information by indicating the probable perimeter of a group of mines. It is unlikely to be capable of detecting an individual mine (current research does not require it). That is better, and more reliably, done by a close-in system. It could be argued that remote detection of minefields is an essential equipment but, for reasons explained elsewhere in this report, it is unlikely ever to be an equipment owned by the humanitarian community.
31. Remote Control. Mine clearance is a dangerous activity and removing human beings from the danger area has to be a worthwhile aim. However, remote control is usually worthwhile only if the remote equipment can perform to at least the standard required when operated by a human. Current mine detectors, if mounted on a remote vehicle, would probably perform less well without the experience of an operator holding it. Anyway, at present, without the ability to detect minimum metal mines, it would be a waste of money. Similarly, existing mechanical equipments, most of which can be remotely controlled, do not have a sufficiently high clearance efficiency to warrant it. Both of the essential requirements above should consider the possibility of remote control.
32. Stand-off Destruction of Mines. Using just one scenario, if the perimeter of a minefield is known, then this equipment could be deployed to destroy each mine without a human having to go into the mined area. It will have to be capable of destroying each individual mine whether buried or on the surface.
33. Robotic Minefield Mapping. This would allow all minefields to be mapped giving local people the information which would allow them to avoid mined areas. This is particularly important in countries where it is impossible to erect any form of fence (usually because they will be stolen). This requirement may well be met as a 'spin-off' benefit from the remote detection of minefields mentioned above.
34. The Robotic Destruction of Mines. This could be considered the 'Holy Grail' of mine clearance where a robot locates and destroys all the mines in a minefield without serious risk to itself. The US is considering such a concept but it is thought to be rather fantastic given the current state of technology. Nevertheless, it is included here as a reminder of what both the military and humanitarian communities would like one day.
35. Mine detection is an activity which depends almost exclusively on a single basic technology. Mines have traditionally been cased in metal or, at least, had substantial metal content. By far the easiest way to detect them when hidden from view was by using 'metal detectors' which reacted in the presence of metal. This basic technology has become more sophisticated but has not changed fundamentally. Manufacturers have improved the sensitivity to react to smaller pieces of metal. However, whilst bringing an apparent benefit, there is a corresponding disadvantage. Many areas in which mines have been laid have been heavily contaminated by metal fragments such as shrapnel and metal rubbish of many types. The more sensitive the detector, the more fragments that are detected. Each response which proves not to be a mine when uncovered is known as a false alarm. Unfortunately the operator cannot always distinguish with certainty between a live mine and a false alarm. Until responses can be positively identified, each must be treated as if it were a live mine which slows down the rate at which mines are cleared.
36. Most of the current mine detector manufacturers claim that some of their equipments will detect minimum metal mines. Technically this may be true but there is considerable skepticism amongst most users. What can be achieved in the laboratory or in carefully selected ground may bear no relation to the situation faced in a minefield. Some minefields are laid in soil with a high ferrous content and whilst this can be filtered out, there is a very real risk that a minimum metal mine will be missed.
37. Whatever the difficulties, there is no doubt that an effective detector is an important equipment- some say it is the most important. It is the best way to achieve a high clearance efficiency without having to resort to hand probing only. Arguably, the present technology has reached its realistic limit and any substantial improvement in detection capability must come through a new technology. The range of possible new technologies is reviewed later.
CURRENT MINE DETECTION TECHNOLOGlES
38. Current detection equipment falls into two broad categories - mine detection and bomb detection. Both use applied magnetic principles but otherwise are quite different in their capabilities and uses. The following is a brief summary.
39. General. Metal detectors emit a weak electromagnetic field which is disturbed proportionally to the amount of metal within its scope. Basically, metal detectors consist of one or more coils which oscillate at a certain frequency. Changes to the oscillation give information on the metal objects detected. Sensitivity is a function of the operating frequency and the size of the search head. There are two principles of operation - the eddy current method and pulsed technology.
40. Eddy Current Principle. A weak magnetic field is produced, which will be disturbed proportionally to the amount of metal within the field. These disturbances are electronically evaluated and the result is made visible by an indication meter and/or an audible tone.
41. Pulse Principle. Electromagnetic pulses are emitted and a receiving coil measures how quickly the short-lived magnetic field decays. Metal within the pulse field slows down the rate of decay. Again, differences in the rate of decay are evaluated and indicated to the operator visually and/or audibly.
42. Magnetic Anomaly Principle. Almost all bomb locators are high sensitivity magnetic anomaly detectors (sometimes known as difference magnetometers) making use of the natural magnetic field of the earth. The function principle is a passive one, i.e., they do not radiate any energy unlike the mine detectors described above. Any changes in the natural magnetic field of the earth are detected by an imbalance between the two coils within the magnetometer and are indicated to the operator. Essentially, magnetometers are used for detecting ferromagnetic materials and are of limited value for detecting mines although they are extensively used for locating buried bombs. Some manufacturers claim to be able to detect targets at depths of up to 10 metres below the surface.
Various Applications of These Principles
43. In an attempt to maximise the benefits of these principles, manufacturers have devised a wide range of equipments. In addition to the hand held systems, there are vehicle mounted or towed devices, large loop detectors and detector arrays. Most of these have underwater variants and, in some cases, airborne versions. Vehicle mounted systems tend to be unwieldy and limited to road use. The old Soviet system known as Dim is a typical example and carries mine sensing heads on a wheeled array pushed in front of a light vehicle which has to stop every time something is detected. The South African Mine Detection Vehicle (MDV) is fitted with pulse induction mine detection pans on either side. It is claimed to be capable of detecting normal AT mines as deep as 500 mm over a three metre wide strip at speeds of up to 40 kph. The ground pressure of the MDV is normally too low to detonate most AT mines and the cab is protected should a mine detonate. As soon as a mine is detected, visual and audible signals alert the driver who then marks the location so the mine can be dealt with by personnel following behind.
44. Much optimism was given to computer-aided systems where a computer program is used to analyse signals in very much more detail than is possible with the traditional hand held mine detectors. To date, these have not demonstrated the promise expected, partly because they are limited by the use of existing detectors and partly because the computer software leaves too much analysis to the operator, albeit presented in a different form.
45. Whatever the method to which these principles are applied, they are all dependent upon the laws of magnetism. To function properly, the target must contain at least some metal (in the case of magnetometers, ferrous metal). The smaller the amount of metal, the poorer the response. If the sensitivity is increased enough to detect small metal objects, the greater the number of items that might be located. Almost all ground is contaminated with small metallic fragments, even more so in an area on which mines have been laid and battles fought. These fragments will lead to a high level of false alarms with a rapid decrease in the rate of mine clearance. Mine detector manufacturers do not publicly agree, but most users of their equipment believe that magnetic principles are close to their useful limit. Privately many manufacturers recognized this and are looking at ways of providing a quantum improvement in performance. Some are cooperating with experts in other sensing technologies. Some manufacturers remain committed to magnetism and are seeking to achieve the required improvement within the existing technology.
MOST PROMISING DETECTION TECHNOLOGlES
46. There are many sensing technologies, some of which are already used in equipment. Whether these technologies can be applied to mine detection is another matter. After the Falkland Islands war, faced with the problem of minimum metal mines, the UK government set about finding a technology capable of detecting them in the conditions prevailing on the islands. They set up Project IRONWORK in which a wide range of research agencies were given money to work on their particular technology to assess whether it could be applied to detecting mines. At a due time, each agency was required to present its findings to a scientific panel. out of this was chosen one technology which was then the focus of all subsequent research. The technology in question will be discussed later but, suffice to say at this point, the technology was shown to work but cost caused the UK to cease further work. As is widely known, most of the mines in the Falkland Islands are still there. As stated elsewhere, it is generally accepted that no single sensor technology will provide a complete answer. For this reason, the US is working on a programme entitled Close-In Man-Portable Mine Detector (CIMMD) which may incorporate advanced IR, microwave sensors and ground penetrating radar.
47. The technologies which will be briefly discussed are:
Infra red (thermal imaging)
Ground Penetrating Radar
Visible Spectrum Photography
Infra Red (IR) or Thermal Imaging (Tl)
48. Infra red mine detection relies on environmental heating effects, such as sun, wind, rain, snow, soil type, water tables, and the internal temperature of the mine to enhance the thermal contrast of the target from its background. This being the case, then this contrast should be detectable. However, it is less straightforward than would be wished.
49. The following is a summary of one report which considered TI using emitted radiation.
Surface Mines. During daytime, heat enters the mines. Explosives do not conduct heat well (it performs rather like paraffin wax). Consequently heat energy supplied largely remains in the top surface. The mine will radiate more during the daytime and less at night compared to normal undisturbed soil. It is possible that a mine in an arid area will radiate like undisturbed soil. Dark mines will absorb more heat (therefore radiate more) than lighter coloured ones. At night the visible colour of mines will have no effect on the thermal emission. As in the case of ground level vegetation, the mine surface temperature will tend to fall below air temperature. The thermal emission of a mine will be close to that of vegetation - both will be nearly at air temperature. Mine detection against a vegetation background will probably not be possible with current sensors.
Buried Mines. If a buried mine is placed below the soil surface about 10 cm, with all other things equal, the mine will have no significant influence on the heat energy source at the surface. The mine will be undetectable. only the disturbed soil above the mine may be detected.
50. This may seem discouraging but another report written in 1979 painted a bleaker picture:
It was apparent that at the present state of the science, thermal imagers as minefield detectors would be ineffective.
However, this same report immediately goes on to say, with some foresight:
It is likely that signal processing technology coupled with a thermal imager in this role could reverse the situation.
51. A recent report, published in 1993, is much more optimistic.
It is now technically both feasible and affordable for the space capable powers to keep any or every part of the surface of the earth under observation virtually 24 hours a day.
At the expense of some detail, however, the surface can be imaged day or night and even under some degree of weather obscuration, in the IR part of the spectrum. All objects at temperatures above absolute zero emit infra-red radiation with characteristics that depend both on their temperature and their material properties. Sensors can now detect even very slight differences in surface emissions, and these can produce excellent images day or night ...
52. This same report suggests using visible spectrum, IR and radar as three complementary techniques.
... taken together, these three techniques allow some kind of view of the earth from space at any time and under almost any conditions. Admittedly, they offer different degrees of resolutions that result both from the basic physics of the technique and from the limitations of current engineering capabilities.
... any area characterized by all three types of image provides a great deal more information than is available on a conventional photograph, however detailed. As a result it is becoming nearly impossible to hide surface changes with camouflage or decoys, because not only do they have to 'look' right, they have to match in thermal and radar characteristics as well...
Using these three technologies will produce vast amounts of data- this can be done by computer and can quickly give a "before and after" comparison to detect any changes.
The important point to emphasize is that all of the component technologies are available today. Furthermore, regardless of military initiatives, there will be strong incentives for
civilian agencies to put them together ... to monitor environmental change, changes in agriculture and to use in a host of other ways.
53. There is much research currently taking place looking at the application of TI to mine detection and minefield detection. The main use seems to be airborne detection of minefields but at least one use is aimed at a hand held TI mine detector. In the US, research is under way on their Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System (ASTIMIDS) with two companies under contract to demonstrate their concepts. one concept involves infra red line scan (IRLS) using second generation TI and a solid state laser. The other concept also uses second generation TI but dispenses with the laser. Data is likely to be transferred from the airborne sensor to the ground station at a rate of 10.7 Mb per second which will have to be handled by massively parallel computers. Trials are understood to begin in 1996 with an equipment coming into service early next century. Assuming the project is successful it will be very expensive. No open literature has been seen relating to similar work in the other countries known to be working on this requirement.
54. Development is under way to demonstrate a new generation night vision goggle for use by EOD teams during operations involving booby trap clearance. This development is not aimed specifically at locating mines but, if otherwise successful, may have some utility for this purpose.
55. A recent report claiming a use for microwaves in detecting mines was made by scientists at the European Union's Ispra research laboratories. They claim to have a theoretical answer to the difficulty of detecting and defuzing plastic mines. Their concept is two-fold; firstly to precisely locate the mines using airborne radar at a height of 3,000 m, secondly, to defuze them by directing intense microwaves from a land based vehicle. The microwaves would break down the explosives up to a metre underground without causing a detonation. "Like the microwave cooker in a domestic kitchen, the process works by transmitting energy into the chosen object." The stated cost would be "tens rather than hundreds of millions of pounds (Sterling) and the results could produce huge benefits for the redevelopment of former conflict zones."
56. Some of the countries looking to develop a capability for airborne, stand-off remote detection of minefields are believed to be considering the use of microwaves but no open literature has been seen.
57. A microwave hand held mine detector is currently under trial at the Belvoir Research, Development and Engineering Center (BRDEC). The aim is to develop a small, lightweight man-portable pulsed microwave mine location system which provides a visual image. It is intended for use by EOD personnel "to identify man-made mine like objects." It is not clear how easily this would locate commercially manufactured minimum metal mines. However, it is stated that two prototypes have been successfully tested at the BRDEC mine lanes. Further computer improvements have been made with more testing in progress.
Visible Spectrum Photography
58. Most technically advanced military forces have sophisticated air reconnaissance facilities and the possible use of these assets has been investigated.
S9. In 1984, the US believed that there was significant value in the use of visible light (photography or TV) and thermal imaging sensors which were already fixed to tactical reconnaissance aircraft. In consequence, they set up the Minefield Detection Using Reconnaissance Assets (MIDURA) programme to examine these possibilities further. The result of the programme is not known but it no longer appears as a current investigation and it is therefore assumed that it was not successful.
60. A year earlier, the UK, in response to the problem of the Falkland Islands minefields, set up a trial to test the use of optical and IRLS cameras. The results, giving at best a 5% detection rate, showed that there were no benefits to be gained.
61. Nevertheless, there may be occasions when current reconnaissance assets are capable of detecting mines and minefields; Kuwait was such an example. However, where mines have been in the ground for a long time and covered with vegetation, there appears to be no benefit to using these assets.
Ground Penetrating Radar
62. Like thermal imaging, this technology has been the centre of much research. Ground penetrating radar (GPR) system radiate a short impulse of electromagnetic energy into the ground and detect the backscattered signal from a buried target. The performance of the radar is chiefly governed by four factors: system dynamic range; absolute bandwidth of the receive signal; range clutter; spatial clutter. There are a number of problems associated with GPR of which one of the greatest is the change in dielectric constant between the air and the ground. In the early days of the Falkland Islands research, the surface reflections obscured mines flush with the surface or just below it. More advanced data processing improved the situation but that work meant that the head had to rest gently on the ground - not an ideal solution considering the low pressures required to detonate AP mines. other agencies claim to have overcome this problem, allowing the head to be lifted off the ground but the results of their work has not been seen. A difficulty GPR shares with other technologies is that of data handling. It would be normal to handle tens of millions of bits per second (mips) which, when analysis is required in real-time, is a very heavy requirement. A second problem is that of target recognition. GPR will generate reflections from all inconsistencies below the surface - voids, stones, water table, mines etc. and it is essential that the system can discriminate between mines and the source of other reflections. A solution to these two shared problems may hold one of the keys to a successful future equipment.
63. Recent research continues to support the view that GPR may have an application for detecting mines. Work at Ohio State University has demonstrated the feasibility of the technique for this purpose. The FOA in Sweden is also conducting similar research and claims to be able to demonstrate a working detector, using impulse radar, able to find non-metallic mines.
64. The UK government spent a great deal of money to support GPR research to find a solution the mines in the Falkland Islands. Many other governments have spent, and still are spending, money on GPR but, so far as is known, the Falkland Islands research is the only one which has been directly centred on minefields laid during a conflict. This research did produce a concept which was seen to work but it was very cumbersome and expensive. However, this technology, and others critical to an effective system (such as data processing), have developed substantially since the UK project has cancelled in 1986. It is considered to be one of the technologies most likely (probably used in conjunction with another technology) to provide a solution the detection requirement.
65. The photon backscatter approach uses a pencil thin beam of X-rays projected into the soil. These X-rays penetrate the surface, are backscattered from objects below the surface, and are collected by panels of detectors located on either side of the beam. The detected X-rays are used to form high resolution images of buried objects. The X-ray beam is scanned along the vehicle width (if mounted on a vehicle), and combined with the forward motion of the vehicle it provides full width detection in front of the vehicle. Laboratory results using this technique have demonstrated that high resolution images of buried mines are achievable for a number of soils and burial depths. An X-ray source suitable for integration on a field testbed system is currently being fabricated.
66. Quite apart from whether a forward mounted detector is a wise concept, there is some scepticism within the scientific community about the use of X-ray technology and this was expressed at the FOA symposium. Nevertheless, field trials may prove to be more promising than expected.
67. In its simplest form, and most widely known, the use of dogs to 'sniff' explosives has been well demonstrated. Their use to detect drugs is also well known. Some proponents of their use state that they can be trained to detect almost anything. Dogs, like most living beings have their problems but those expert in their handling suggest that good training and sensible use will provide a reliable detection system. Dogs are being used in Afghanistan and Mozambique apparently to good effect and their use is described below.
68. Pigs are thought to be better at 'sniffing' than dogs and might be better at finding mines. Their use for finding truffles is well known. No open literature has been seen describing any tests or trials but the subject has been discussed with some scientists. Their use would not be acceptable in some countries and there may thus be little point in pursuing this avenue.
69. Ultra small amounts of trinitrotoluene (TNT) relaxes a tense muscle. Nitroglycerine is a well known component of drugs used to combat heart disease. This phenomenon could possibly be used in the detection of mines. The principle has been tested to work down to 1~14g TNT.
Very small amounts of the explosive evaporate into the air but even a few molecules can be sensed by the muscle, provided that they come close enough. Drug research has used pieces of muscle from the intestine of cows for a long time. The experiment is simple. A muscle from the blood vessel in the intestine is cut into pieces. one such piece is tied up between two hooks, one hook is attached to a force transducer in a container with constant temperature and physiological solution (to keep the muscle alive). The muscle is then tensed using a drug (phenylephrine). When TNT is added, the muscle relaxes and this can be registered on the force transducer. The method is very sensitive and is similar to that expected from dogs, albeit without the unpredictability sometimes associated with the latter. More work is required to demonstrate that an equipment could be manufactured for easy use by an operator in a minefield.
70. Dogs are used quite extensively to detect mines. The Mine Detection Dog Centre, an Afghan NGO, uses them to directly detect mines. At the end of 1 993, they had used 90 dogs to clear a total area of 5.67 square kilometers, locating nearly 8,500 mines and a little over 1 3,000 items of UXO. The South African system, the Mecum Explosives and Drug Detection System (MEDDS), has been used by the South African Defence Force to clear roads in South Africa and is currently being used in Mozambique. This technique is substantially different from the Afghan use of dogs and is conducted in two phases. In Phase one, a mine protected vehicle fitted at the front with a vapour collection box is driven along the suspect road in stages of about one kilometre at speeds of up to 20 kph. At the end of each stage, a physical marker is put down or a GPS reading taken and the chemical filters in the vapour box are renewed. The used filters, one from each side of the collection box, are logged in relation to the section of road over which they have passed and are stored in the vehicle for later analysis. The vehicle then goes to a 'clean' identification area set up nearby where the samples are set out on small stands to be sniffed by dogs specially trained to indicate within minutes which filters show signs of explosive contamination. In Phase Two, follow-up dog and disposal teams move in mine protected vehicles to the relevant section of road. The dogs again use their sense of smell to localize further the mine. It is claimed that over time, the smell of the explosive within a long-buried mine can permeate the ground or vegetation up to 10 m away from the mine itself. The dogs are trained to lie down at the edge of the area affected by the smell, not at the source, to reduce their exposure to risk. A mechanical disposal vehicle then uses a remotely controlled arm to locate and remove the mine.
71. Explosives contain relatively high concentrations of hydrogen and this can be detected. Equipments already exist to look for hidden explosives and this concept could be applied to mine detection. A system using a small neutron source has been fabricated and subjected to limited field tests. The results of these tests indicated a probability of detection of 0.95 to l.0 in very dry soils. The performance degrades significantly as the soil moisture rises above 5% by weight. The technique may have application on dry soils but not wet.
72. This and other possible uses of nuclear physics, as is the case with nuclear generated electricity in many countries, may prove to be practical but unacceptable. The public perception of any aspect of nuclear science is not positive and if the benefits associated with its use can be
provided from another source then it may remain unacceptable for the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, it would be foolish to ignore this technology and, indeed, research is understood to be continuing.
73. The author defined mine clearance earlier in this report to mean the complete removal of mines within a specified area. This is an ideal case but generally unrealistic. In practice, it is impossible to be certain that all mines have been removed. Many mines have been laid without any record showing where they were laid and how many were used. Without this information there can be no certainty that all have been removed. There are a number of factors which reduce the clearance efficiency from the ideal of 100% but they are not considered in depth in this report. Suffice to say that, in most cases, hand clearance (using hand probing techniques, with or without mine detectors) gives a higher clearance efficiency than mechanical systems. These concepts are discussed briefly below.
74. Most hand clearance employs two activities - hand probing and the use of mine detectors. Hand probing can be undertaken, and often is, without the help of detectors. However, when detectors are used, hand probing techniques will normally be used to uncover the mine, or to prove that no mine exists (in the case of a false alarm). Hand clearance is a potentially dangerous activity with accidents being fairly common. For this reason, most mine clearance operators would prefer to use mechanical systems. The difficulties associated with such systems are discussed later.
75. Probing is undertaken by men either lying prone on their stomachs or in a squatting position. For safety, they will normally work in an echelon formation allowing a safety distance between them, so that if a mine detonates during probing, then the number of people injured will be reduced. The probe is a very simple piece of equipment although some, developed for military use, are rather more sophisticated. Some are non-magnetic. The probe is one of the few items of equipment which can easily be made in the Third World. Some have been manufactured by local tradesmen from lengths of reinforcing bar. Paradoxically, these locally produced equipments are often better than the more sophisticated, and very much more expensive military versions. Probes will be considered no further in this report.
CURRENT MECHANICAL CLEARANCE EQUIPMENT
76. There are a number of mechanical equipments already manufactured and the five main concepts (ploughs, flails, rollers, 'seek and destroy' techniques and explosives) and two additional concepts (lasers and 'spoofs', and sifting) are discussed below. over the years many other concepts have been considered and are still being considered. However, the concepts mentioned above and discussed below remain the main support to breaching operations and from which one might hope to find future benefits for mine clearance.
77. These have been in existence for decades and still provide one of the main methods of breaching in war and were successfully used by the Coalition Forces in the recent Gulf War. There are many countries manufacturing these including Israel, the former Soviet Union, the UK and the US. They are, however, designed only to push mines to either side of the plough and those that do not detonate, remain, often undamaged and usually buried under disturbed soil. To subsequently clear these disturbed mines is often more difficult. There are a variety of ploughs whose designs are dependent upon the specific task for which they were intended and the conditions of the ground on which they might be used. Ploughs destroy the ground and vegetation, and will increase the problems of soil erosion. They require substantial automotive power to push them and this is traditionally provided by a battle tank which usually has to operate at full revs in bottom gear. The tank has considerable power, and it also provides protection from the enemy which laid the mines (who may be defending the minefield) and also from the fragmentation from detonating mines. one magazine article claims that, when used in conjunction with a roller (such as the Soviet KMT-5), the plough is one of the few systems which can provide a virtual 100% clearance efficiency. This may be the case for a breached lane but those mines moved to either side by the plough still remain. The tank propelled plough is considered impracticable for mine clearance and the descriptions given below are only intended for background information.
78. Track-width Mine Plough. This pushes mines to either side of each track allowing the vehicle to breach a minefield safely. The Israeli version (Ramta) can be used at speeds of up to 6.5 kph in stony ground and has two plough assemblies each clearing a 1.5 metre width in front of each track to remove mines down to a depth of 300 mm A chain
dragged between these initiates any mine located in the central unploughed area and fitted with mast sensors.
79. Full-width Mine Plough. This is a very heavy equipment fitted to the front of a tank. It is V shaped and digs down about 200 mm below the surface of the ground (it can go lower). It requires great automotive power and destroys the ground over which it operates. The term 'fullwidth' indicates that the plough is a little wider than the tank and has no gaps.
80. Scatterable Mine Clearance Device. This is also known as the Surface Mine Plough. It is a concept equipment which was successfully used in the Gulf War. It is designed only for clearing scatterable mines (those delivered by aircraft, helicopter, missile and artillery) which usually lie on top of the ground. It is well suited for this role but is far less well suited for use against buried mines. It is not designed for use against AT mines. It can be mounted on the front of a small armoured vehicle or on a truck but in the latter case the driver is at considerable risk.
81. 'Rake' Plough. This is a US design very similar to the general concept of the full-width plough except it is a V shaped tined plough - rather like a rake - pushed by a tank. It was expected to be particularly good in desert conditions as the tines allow sand to pass through but are close enough together to catch mines and move them to either side. It also needs considerable automotive power and destroys the ground.
82. Dozers. Civilian dozers are probably available in most countries and in theory they could have some application, particularly on dirt roads. They could possibly be used to improve the condition of these roads by grading them. They can be very much less destructive of the ground than the track width, full-width and 'rake' ploughs, but otherwise suffer from the same problems. Dozers are not designed to clear mines and thus have a number of major disadvantages. They are not designed to withstand the explosive power of mines. A detonating AT mine is likely to cause damage to the blade, perhaps causing fragments to fly off and hit the driver. A US company produces mine ploughs for dozers and an Israeli company produces an add-on kit for dozers which provides an armoured cab offering some protection to the driver. It leaves the automotive and hydraulic components exposed. An armoured dozer has been used in specific EOD tasks but not against AT mines.
83. A flail is a mechanically driven rotating drum, with chains attached, that beats the ground with great force to detonate or physically break up land-mines. Flails were used for minefield breaching prior to the wide-spread acceptance of the track width mine plough.
84. Flails are intended to clear surface laid or shallow-buried mines from a narrow lane by repeated chain impacts detonating, destroying or displacing mines in the cleared lanes. As with fuel air explosives and explosive line charges, the displacement of mines caused by flail operations is a problem in Demining operations. Flails (like rollers and blast-over pressure systems) are also ineffective against long/multiple impulse fuzed mines unless those mines are physically beaten apart by them. Further, flails typically require multiple passes over the same area in order to achieve an acceptable level of confidence. For these reasons, currently available flails are not really suited for area clearance. However, they can be a powerful tool for use in conjunction with other equipment and techniques.
85. Large countermine flails have been developed by the UK, South Africa, Germany and Israel. The German Kailua is based on a turretless M48A2 tank and is operated by a crew of two. The Israeli Soil Mill system is based on a armoured tractor pushing a power unit which operates a flail (or milling) arm. The latter claims to have a better than 95% efficiency against AT mines but against AP mines it is less good. A small countermine flail for clearing AP mines is under development by the US Army.
86. These are pushed over an area by a protected vehicle and the inherent weight of the roller activates the mine. The former Warsaw Pact forces, in particular, used them quite extensively but only for breaching operations in war. They are designed to be fitted to tanks, or other powerful vehicles, which have the automotive power to push them and give adequate protection to the crew from the effects of detonating mines. After only a few mines have been detonated, some rollers may need replacing. There is a South African commercial equivalent available which is based on a Casspir mine protected vehicle fitted with all steel wheels. It was designed for use against AP mines and has been used around electricity power pylons in Mozambique. Rollers can be cumbersome and often severely restrict the speed of the prime mover. They are mechanically simple but are not fully effective in rough terrain, scrub areas and against certain types of mine. They do not have a proven capability in peacetime clearance and even their use in war is
the subject of debate. They may have some application for confirming an area is clear of mines once other means have first been employed.
Seek and Destroy Techniques
87. In its simplest form this would include the use of a mine detector and the subsequent destruction of the mines found. The limitation of this particular technique is discussed earlier in this report and no further here.
88. In certain circumstances it is possible to detect the explosive vapour coming from a mine. This can be done using air sampling equipments or dogs. Dogs wandering over an area have a short concentration span and can be distracted; they are also vulnerable to AP mines. Air sampling equipment tends to be complex, often bulky and can be prone to false alarms. Nevertheless, they are extensively used in counter-terrorist and security work with success. A combination of both techniques may provide the answer and such a system is being used by a South African company, apparently with success and is described earlier.
89. There are many explosive techniques designed to destroy a number of mines at one time. Most of them are intended for use in war and some of them would have little use in humanitarian mine clearance. Whilst they can be used rapidly, most explosive systems still rely on a slower follow-up by a mechanical device (such as a plough) to ensure a completely cleared breach. This is necessary because the explosion may not detonate all the mines in its locality for a number of reasons. one such reason is the widespread introduction of slow acting or double impulse pressure fuzes which remain unaffected by the rapidly produced over-pressures resulting from conventional explosives.
90. Explosive Hose. This is usually a rocket propelled explosive filled hose which is projected through the air from a tank-towed trailer. An arrester parachute at the tail of the hose straightens it out just before it hits the ground and activates a delay firing mechanism which detonates it a few seconds later. The UK Giant Viper system is designed to clear a lane of about 7 m in width and 1 83 m long. However, it can only guarantee a clear lane (of about 300 mm width) immediately under the hose. The Chinese Norinco Type 762 employs a tracked chassis carrying two heavy 425 mm rockets, each of which can carry a 600 kg explosive warhead to a range of 800 to 1,000 metres, clearing a path up to 1 30 metres long and 1 2 to 22 metres wide. These width figures are probably subject to the same limitation faced by the Giant Viper. They are all heavy, very expensive and there is no application for them for peace time clearance. There are many man portable systems available (which may require more than one man to carry and prepare them). A German manufacturer makes a system which comprises a chest containing explosive charges arranged in a ladder. The ladder is carried over a minefield by a rocket, with the charge formation ensuring a cleared path over 50 metres in length and wide enough for infantry to use. A similar system is the South African Plofadder 150 which can clear a breach of AP mines over a length of 150 metres. The former system requires two men whilst the latter, being heavier, requires four. There are other types, manufactured in other countries but they all suffer the same penalties of expense and limited effectiveness (from a humanitarian perspective).
91. Foam Explosives and Gases. At one time these were thought to have great potential but a number of trials have shown them to be of rather limited use. A foam is a colloidal system and consists of an intimate mixture of two mutually insoluble substances; one known as the dispersed phase and the other as the continuous phase. In the case of a foam, the dispersed phase is a gas which is divided into a myriad of tiny bubbles throughout the liquid continuous phase. A good example of this is shaving foam. In foam explosive, the liquid phase is the explosive and the type of gas used for the dispersed phase is relatively unimportant. one interesting feature was the belief that the mixture only became on explosive when the foam was formed, meaning that it did not need to be stored as an explosive. This was later discounted in some countries. There is a wide variety of explosive liquids. Some, like concentrated solutions of hydrazoic acid are extremely sensitive and some, like ammonium nitrate/methylamine nitrate solutions, are very insensitive. A number of trials (circa 1986 to 1 990) have been conducted to test the effectiveness of one UK commercial formulation (with a velocity of detonation of 2,000- 2,400 metres per second) against AP mines and sub-munitions. The results are mixed with moderate results against plastic cased mines but poor results against metal cased sub-munitions. Because the brissance of this foam explosive was low, quite large quantities (0.5 litre per mine) were required. In addition, unless the foam was detonated within twenty minutes it became harmless and moderately strong winds would blow it away. A Canadian commercial formulation claims to be able to vary the explosive strength of the foam on site and, once sprayed, it becomes rigid. However, no details of its effectiveness against mines have been seen. A South African company has developed an explosive system which employs large plastic bags filled with methane based gases. one such system involves driving a remotely controlled vehicle with large low pressure tires across a minefield. The vehicle carries a wide bobbin across its rear from which the plastic bags are unwound. The explosive gas is then pumped into the bags and detonated once the vehicle has been disconnected. No test results for this system have been seen. In a peacetime context, there will be concern about a system which has to drive over a minefield before it can be effective.
92. Fuel-Air Explosives. In the right circumstances this is a very powerful explosive but in the open air it has shown variable success. Since the late 1970s interest in Fuel-Air Explosives (FAE) weapons has declined except for the US CATFAE minefield clearing system. As the name implies, FAE are explosives that rely on oxygen in the air as the primary source of the indispensable oxidising agent. This makes them more weight efficient than conventional explosives. About 42% of the weight of TNT is due to the oxygen it must carry with it, thus weight for weight some FAE (propylene oxide and aluminium) release 7.9 and 7.4 times as much energy as TNT. There are many possible FAE fuels, but practical considerations such as safety reduce the list.
The unclassif1ed list of known detonable FAE fuels is not very large with hydrocarbons being the most common. Some of those which have been shown to detonate are:
The critical detonation energy depends on the type of fuel, the fuel particle or drop size, the energy deposition rate (power), the fuel-air ratio, and, to a lesser extent, the temperature and humidity. A generic FAE device might comprise a container holding the fuel with a burster charge held centrally within the fuel. The burster charge is intended to break open the container and distribute the fuel in a cloud such that the volume of air filled will contain sufficient oxygen for complete fuel oxidization when initiated by a 'second event' detonator. only the US and, to much lesser extent, Canada has shown much interest in FAE for clearing mines. Most of the trials against minefields have been to test the breaching capability. US forces used the BLU82 'Daisy Cutter' to breach minefields in Iraq during the Gulf war The few known FAE trials that have been conducted to test their mine clearing capability have been disappointing with some mines not being destroyed and some being scattered more widely. Some mines are designed to withstand explosive over pressure. The indications are that FAE by itself will not clear all types of mines. one of the main difficulties appears to be reliably and regularly producing the critical detonation at the instant of initiation. Future work may improve this performance but the difficulty of developing a cheap and reliable delivery system has yet to be addressed.
93. Burning. This is not strictly an explosive technique but it is included in this section for simplicity. It has been very effective against plastic mines in the Falkland Islands but has no application against metal ones. The technique involves remotely setting alight the plastic case which in turn starts the explosives burning. With luck the detonator will not explode until most of the main explosive charge has been consumed. It is only of any value against visible plastic mines and requires a small remote vehicle to deliver the flame. The UK is researching the use of thickened fuel (given the inelegant name of 'Super Snot') which would be spread over the ground and lit. Since it is thicker, (than petrol, for example) it would not just soak into the ground but would stick to it, and to mines, thus maintaining the localised effect of the flame for longer. Indications are that this will not fulfil the earlier expectations. Nevertheless, burning can bring practical benefits during mine clearance operations when used to remove vegetation which covers the area to be cleared. Unless it can be removed by burning, the vegetation will have to be laboriously cut by hand slowing down the mine clearance work and putting the operators at greater risk. Under certain circumstances, some surface laid mines (as previously explained in the Falkland Islands) and trip wires can be removed in this way. However, when used to remove vegetation, this cannot be considered a mine clearance technique and normal procedures will still be required once the burning has ended.
Lasers and 'Spoofs'
94. A US company has developed a system that it claims defeats magnetic mines by projecting an electronic signal ahead of a fast moving vehicle on which it is mounted. The signal causes the fuzing mechanism to detonate the mine before the vehicle reaches it. The UK is also known to have developed such a system. Both were used during the Gulf war. Another system uses high energy lasers mounted on the turret of armored vehicles. The lasers are intended to disrupt the electronic circuits used in many modern mines but would be of limited value against metallic mines from past generations.
95. It might be argued that the 'rake' plough described earlier is designed to sift the ground as it moves forward but as it moves mines to either side rather than collecting them, it acts as a plough rather than a sieve. At least one equipment using a sieve concept was employed in Kuwait and scooped the earth into a system of vibrating meshes allowing the earth to fall through but collecting the mines. Apparently it had very limited success. Another concept envisages a civil engineering earth scraper removing the entire top level of the ground and separating out any mines using an internal sieve system passing the mines into a 'mine-proof' compartment where they would be held to await later disposal. So far as is known, it remains a concept only. Both these 'volumetric' systems should give near to a l00% clearance efficiency but are, or would be, expensive, have safety problems and would cause considerable environmental damage to the vegetation. Supporters of the concepts point out that it is a simple matter to re-level and re-seed the ground, perhaps putting it out of use for as little as one year. They are not considered to be viable options for humanitarian mine clearance.
POSSIBLE ADVANCES FOR MINE CLEARANCE
96. The main mechanical concepts described above are mainly applications of mechanical engineering and have been designed for breaching operations and therefore have limited use for humanitarian mine clearance. A few equipments have been designed for peacetime rather than wartime needs but they are have yet to prove that their performance matches that required.
97. Before any of the current equipment concepts could be accepted, a very much higher clearance efficiency must be demonstrated, ideally to 99.8% as specified by the UN. The manufacturers of the equipment themselves accept that this is unlikely. Rather like mine detectors based on principles of magnetism, mechanical clearance equipment can be refined and some improvements in performance will be possible. However, these improvements will become progressively harder to achieve and are always likely to fall well short of the target performance required. Hand probing is still required and this is slow, potentially very dangerous, but gives a high level of clearance efficiency.
98. During the FOA Symposium held in Sweden over the period 8 -11 June 1994, a working group was set up to consider, amongst other matters, possible ways of providing better mine clearance equipment. A range of concepts was discussed and an extract of their draft report follows.
The group discussed the existing mechanical systems of flails, ploughs and rollers but all were discounted for humanitarian purposes. It was simply not possible to give a 99.8% certainty of clearance. In addition, some of the systems (ploughs in particular) would severely damage the land. The group could not envisage a realistic equipment in the foreseeable future. However, if any mechanical system was to provide a solution, it might be a form of vibrating roller.
Similarly, the existing range of destruction techniques was investigated. Explosive means, electronic, fire, shooting (sometimes known as projectile attack), dropping weights and lasers were discussed. Those which could cover a wide area (such as FAE), and could be used against unseen mines, were not reliable enough and could not provide 99.8% success. The remainder required the location of the mine to be known, in which case, there were already simpler, cheaper and more reliable destruction methods available.
99. Despite the pessimism of this group, two concepts are discussed briefly below which may, in time, prove to have some use. It is also known that various military research agencies are conducting work on a range of other concepts although the status of them is not known. Despite the difficulties of an easy solution to the problem of providing an efficient and quick method of clearing mines, it is important that all possible solutions continue to be considered.
l00. The use of conventional rollers has been largely discounted for use on all but very smooth areas but a vibrating version may have some greater application. There are still significant problems with providing the required automotive power, protecting the operator and ensuring that the equipment is not destroyed by a mine it rolls over. The ground on which it is used must still be fairly smooth although it is thought by some that the vibrations will overcome a small level of roughness. Such rollers are common in civil engineering, particularly in road building, for compacting the sub layers. It is not known whether any trials have been carried out with this concept.
101. Although the use of rollers is not generally accepted as a primary clearance technique, there is much wider agreement of their possible use as a quality control tool. It is argued that once an area has been cleared, say by hand, then many of the shrubs and other vegetation, which would render a roller ineffective, will have been removed. It might then be a relatively simple, and quick, procedure to traverse the ground with a vibrating roller to show that no mines remain, or to find those which were missed. The procedure will not be as straightforward as this discussion might suggest but the possible use of rollers in this way should be considered for the confirmation of large areas.
HIGH POWER MICROWAVES
l02. The use of high power microwaves (HPM) has been suggested for possible use against mines. one report presented at the ICRC symposium (30 May- 1 June 1 994), although not directly suggesting such a use, provides the following background.
Source. HPM devices use new generation of microwave sources. For a frequency of 1 GHz, the peak output power that has been reported to date is 10 GW. It is predicted that this value could be increased by a factor of 100 within the next 10 years. A 1 GW Power device can be readily assembled. A relativistic magnetron source with an average power of 0.9 GW at 1.1 GHz and a pulse width of 60 ns is commercially available.
Radiating System. Reflecting antennas are used to broadcast HPM radiation and can be fed by single horns or horn arrays. The size of the reflector ranges between 20 m2 and 100 m2 For l GHz radiation the maximum antenna gain will be approximately 30 to 40 dB...
HPM Effects. HPM induce currents in electrically conducting materials. Any system that depends on electronic signals for its operation can be affected by HPM...
Heating Effects. The main effect which accompanies the absorption of microwave radiation is an increase of temperature brought about by the flow of induced currents. Under certain circumstances coils and other metallic objects can be destroyed by the heat.
Biological Effects. Microwaves have been used for many years in several areas of medicine, but as Paracelsus stated long ago, it is the dose that determines whether a drug is poisonous or beneficial to mankind. This also holds true for microwave radiation: under certain conditions it can have fatal results…
Power Consumption. Power consumption ranges from MW to GW dependant upon the microwave generator, configuration and radiated power. Power efficiencies are typically about l0%. No figures have been seen giving the probable level of power generation for use in mine clearance. It is though likely to be high, requiring large generating systems. This may not be a limiting factor in humanitarian mine clearance if the clearance efficiency of the system is high enough.
Technical Description. There are at least two ways of using HPM for mine clearing. The first way is to make mines detonate as a result of energy absorption in the electro-explosive device (electrically initiated detonator). The second way is to cause permanent damage in the electronics of modern sensor-actuated mines (smart mines).
103. HPM could have a real application against mines although to what extent and at what cost is not known. Certainly, they appear to need a great deal of energy and may only be really effective against more sophisticated mines containing at least some electronics. Whether those non-electric detonators used in mines can be detonated by HPM is not known. The idea that an area of mines in the ground can be 'cooked' (as in a microwave oven) using HPM until they explode is not considered practicable by those scientists with whom it was discussed, although the technical basis of this opinion is not clear. Certainly, a very high level of power generation will be required and the precise effect on humans and animals is not known. At present, the most realistic potential use of HPM remains as a technique to attack any electronic components incorporated in the mine although a broader use may be feasible and should be explored.
104. It has been stated previously that whilst mines undoubtedly present the single major problem, they are not the only one. There are many other expensive items which are left lying on the ground after a battle has been fought. Some of them are extremely dangerous (hand grenades without safety pins are not uncommon) and all of them should be cleared. For the purpose of this report, the process of removing these munitions will be termed 'area clearance'. There are situations where area clearance and mine clearance can be considered as two separate operations
105. Area clearance has been extensively and successfully undertaken in the Falkland Islands although the minefields remain. In Kuwait, area clearance and mine clearance happened at the same time. In countries where area clearance is not undertaken, usually because of limited resources, any munitions found within a minefield will normally be cleared as part of the operation.
106. There is no equipment specifically designed for area clearance. Sub-surface items are located using mine (metal) detectors or the more sophisticated and sensitive magnetometers. Depending upon the perceived risk in a particular area, clearance can be done in either (sometimes both) of two ways. Firstly, where munitions are believed to be mainly on the surface, clearance can be undertaken by people walking over the ground in line abreast looking for items visually. This can also be done on an area with sub-surface items but normally only when the land will be put to uses such as livestock grazing. obviously, the effectiveness of this method is limited only to visible items. Even these can be missed in long grass, in drifting sand, or through inattention. Secondly, when items are believed to be sub-surface, and a higher level of clearance is required than can be effected by visual search alone, then detectors will also be used. Items found will mostly be destroyed in-situ but occasionally may be stockpiled for later destruction.
107. None of the military agencies approached have felt any great need for radically new equipment for area clearance. There are no known credible concepts for improving the present situation and scarce resources are better directed elsewhere. This view is generally supported by the humanitarian community which is more concerned about mines. As a peripheral issue, there is a great need for area clearance in countries whose military forces have been substantially reduced following the end of the Cold War. Large numbers of hectares previously used for ranges and as military training areas will be returned to civilian use. However, before this can be done, the land must be cleared - possibly to a high standard. Fortunately, most of the countries to whom this applies have enough resources to either do the work themselves or pay for others to do it.
l08. It may be helpful to differentiate the author's view of robotics and remote control. The former removes the need for human intervention in an operation, or sequence of operations, whilst the latter only places the human at a distance, ideally beyond the danger zone. There are many examples of remote control being used in EOD and counter-terrorist bomb disposal makes extensive use of remote vehicles. Technically there is little problem in fitting remote control to most equipments. There may be some debate whether doing so provides a worthwhile benefit.
l09. By contrast, there is no known truly robotic equipment in mine clearance, although it is a matter of active discussion. one DoD view is that before it can be worthwhile, the actual function it will provide must justify the cost. For example, the robotic detection of mines must follow the development of a detector which will reliably detect all mines. Similarly, with mechanical clearance equipment, the present poor clearance efficiencies must first be improved.
110. The military are undertaking extensive research into robotic vehicles (land based and airborne) and once the problems outlined above are overcome, it is expected that the technology would be transferable to humanitarian needs. The US Army and Marine Corps have a large number of research programmes aimed at developing and proving technology for their purposes. other countries, in Europe and elsewhere, are also working with test beds that could lead to operational systems. The French and UK ministries of defence have their own national programmes, and a subgroup of the Independent European Program Group (IEPG) - comprising representatives of Germany, France, Spain, UK and the Netherlands - is also studying military applications of robotics (in many cases better described as remote control).
111. The UN has received an unsolicited approach suggesting that it was possible to design a system for clearing mines is and partially quoted as follows:
The system would involve one or more computer controlled robots which would detonate each mine as it is encountered. The detonating sub-system would be designed so that the robot would not have any of its parts damaged in the mine explosions. The system should be able to detect and detonate a very high percentage of the mines in any given area. Risk to humans would be close to zero.
Estimates from ... initial designs suggest that a single robot system could clear the AP mines in a 1 0,000 m2 area ( 100 metres on either side) in less than 24 hours. once set up and started, the system would be designed to work unattended until all the AP mines had been detonated. If desired, a second pass over the area could be used to detonate any antitank mines.
This would be a very attractive concept if it were realistic. There are many factors, any one of which could make the concept impracticable. However, despite this pessimism, it is very close to what an ideal equipment might be. There is some research taking place which is looking at robotic excavation linked to a GPR detector for use against buried UXO.
POSSIBLE FUTURE USES OF ROBOTICS
112. Most people in the mine clearance community would be delighted if the work could be done remotely or, even better, robotically. However, the cost of applying this technology must be justified by the benefits it provides. There is no doubt that one benefit would be safety, by removing the operator from the hazardous area. There are doubts whether an equipment will operate as effectively when the operator is at a distance or has been removed altogether. There is little value in a system which makes life safer for the operator but which will be less effective at clearing the ground and still leaves a hazard to others when the work is complete.
113. There is a considerable amount of research taking place into robotics and the possible benefits for the humanitarian mine clearance community should be kept under review. However, the over-riding priority is to solve the basic technological requirements of improved detection and efficient clearance. once this is achieved, then the benefits of remote control or robotics should be considered in conjunction with a cost/benefit analysis.
THE VIEW OF THE MILITARY
114. Although the military is criticized for laying mines and for leaving them behind after a war is over, it is only the military which is investing money in ways of removing them. To a large extent it is immaterial whether this money is devoted to breaching rather than the humanitarian clearance of mines. In many cases, the technology will be transferable albeit possibly at extra cost.
115. The military requirement so far as removing mines is concerned is well known. The main objective when faced with a minefield which they cannot bypass, is to punch a path (breach) through it to enable vehicles to cross it with minimum risk, so the battle can be fought on the other side. In the main, the other mines are of no consequence. Almost all the present military equipment and research and development is aimed at this narrow requirement. Minefield breaching is an imprecise activity and despite some expensive and quite sophisticated equipment, it can be literally 'hit and miss' as described in earlier sections. It is acceptable in military terms (because there is no realistic alternative at present) to accept a higher risk that mines will be missed and soldiers killed than would be acceptable to the humanitarian community. The reduction of equipment budgets, already described, reduces the military ability to lessen this level of risk through greater development. Any equipment developed for the humanitarian community, which provides a lower level of risk, might be bought by the military. However, they are unlikely to take the lead based on present priorities.
116. Interestingly, the US appears to have taken a lead with Congress requiring the State Department and the DoD to work together for the benefit of humanitarian mine clearance. It is understood that US$ 10 million has been allocated in the 1994 financial year for this purpose although it is not known how much of this, if any, will be devoted to equipment concerns. The author had informal discussions about this with the DoD and they appear content to use much of the technology developed for military mine breaching for the benefit of humanitarian uses. The author had similar informal discussions with other ministries of defence which are much less advanced in their thinking. There is a willingness to help the civilian community but to date this has no official sanction. Their funds have been very severely reduced and there is not enough
money for their own existing projects and therefore none to spare for unendorsed civilian applications.
l17. Many military forces are seeking a new role following the end of the Cold War but their governments are often reluctant to directly commit them to humanitarian uses. These governments may be willing to commit military resources indirectly. Within the context of this report, such indirect involvement could be through sharing equipment research and development information and, ideally, joint equipment programmes.
118. Limited discussions in the US suggest they may support the creation of a forum in which the way forward can be discussed and to decide the equipment requirements of the humanitarian community. It would expect the UN to play a leading role in this and would be happy to see a wider membership on the basis that other members bring concrete benefits to the group. There is already much inter-military cooperation between nations and it is quite possible to extend this to include humanitarian mine clearance agencies.
119. There is no doubt that by far the greatest amount of money being invested in appropriate research comes from military funding. Probably the largest single investor is the US. With this in mind, and the apparent willingness of the DoD to support humanitarian mine clearance, there are considerable benefits in working closely with the military in order to find solutions to the humanitarian problems. By contrast, the humanitarian community has little money to invest and would be at a serious disadvantage if it disregarded the potential of cooperation with the military.
120. At some of the meetings attended by the author, some NGOs stated that no humanitarian funds should be spent on research and development because there is not enough money for existing humanitarian programmes. They undoubtedly have a valid point but, if progress is to be made in the mine clearance equipment field, there may have to be some compromise. Progress will best be achieved on the basis of a partnership between those who have the necessary resources and those who want to benefit from them. The exact nature of this partnership will require some thought which should not be hindered by pre-stated attitudes. Those governments participating in a future equipment programme will expect to see some commitment from the humanitarian community. This may not require any direct funding but will involve, at least, management time and, probably, leadership.
THE HUMAN INTERFACE
121. It is a truism that most equipments is only as good as the man operating it and it is important that this is not forgotten. The aim must be to achieve the most effective integration of equipment and man, to provide the most cost effective system. The process is by its very nature an interactive process intended to improve total system performance. It accepts the need for tradeoffs between cost, equipment performance and supportability (human performance and reliability). The concept has a role to play in the development process of equipment required by the humanitarian community.
It is particularly important for equipment which may be used by people with limited resources to operate and maintain it.
THE WAY FORWARD
122. The overwhelming impression the author has gained throughout this study is the need to develop a partnership with the military and, in particular, with their research bodies. The military are investing vast sums of money in research and it would be nonsense to ignore the benefits which could come from it. Virtually all civilian research looking at new technologies is in support of, or funded by, military research. Unless the humanitarian community can find a separate source of funding for research, it has no real choice but to look to the military for help.
123. How this might be achieved is outside the scope of this report but informal discussions with the US DoD and, to a lesser extent, other ministries of defence, indicate that they may be willing to participate in a forum to consider the needs of the humanitarian community and to see what military research may have utility for it. How much of this research would actually be available for transfer to a civil requirement is by no means clear but since a large slice of it is discussed in the public domain (at least in the US case) there is some optimism that at least the publicly acknowledged work would be available.
124. Even looking to the military for help, funding will still be a problem. Although the military may be willing to participate in the forum mentioned above, they are unlikely to be so willing to provide additional funds. They already have enough budgetary problems of their own. Nevertheless, funding will be required, firstly to fund humanitarian research (or at least, development based on military research) and, secondly to procure the equipment developed. There seems little point in developing equipment which no one can afford to buy. How funding will be found is also outside the scope of this report but it probably involve identifying donor countries.
12S. Earlier in this report, a list of new equipment requirements was set down. It would be helpful for this list to be subject to wider debate before the direction of any humanitarian research or development is decided. The list is an adaptation of known military requirements and is a sensible start point from which to consider humanitarian needs. It will be cheaper to adapt a military equipment to the needs of the latter rather than develop an entirely separate equipment, even based on the same research work.
126. It is clear that no real consensus exists within the scientific community on which technologies are best to meet the various requirements. The author is not a scientist and therefore not able to adjudicate but from the information researched for this report he suggests that the technologies below should be considered at an early stage. Even so, a scientific consensus must be reached if money is not to be wasted.
* * *
- Mine Detection. It is widely agreed that more than one technology is required to be used in conjunction with each other. The real debate is about which technologies. on the basis of the amount of work already completed the following are considered to be leading contenders:
Ground penetrating radar, particularly since it was considered to have worked in the Falkland Islands. The problems which were encountered then and which caused that programme to be cancelled may now be more easily overcome.
Infra red or thermal imaging. This possibly accounts the greatest amount of work being devoted to mine (or minefield) detection. It would be wrong to ignore this concentration of effort.
Biosensors. Dogs are already well known although not universally accepted. The work being undertaken using animal tissue should be watched.
- Mine Clearance. The situation here is much less clear, largely because of the pessimism of being able to reliably and regularly meet a clearance efficiency of 99.8%. Yet hand clearance, which can meet this, is slow, dangerous and expensive. The existing, conventional, mine breaching equipments can probably be improved but are unlikely ever to meet this efficiency even if two or more are used in conjunction with each other. However, perhaps those most likely to succeed are:
High Power Microwaves. This is not universally endorsed by the scientific community but it would be interesting to see whether it was as effective against conventional mines as it is thought likely to be against electronically fuzed mines.
Vibrating roller. This is not an equipment which has received much attention and there may be too many problems with it but it would be worth considering for a small scale trial.
Locate and remove. If a solution to the mine detection problem is found, then much manual clearance will become very much quicker- and is likely to meet the 99.8% efficiency. This concept is already in use with the MEDDS system albeit using dogs rather than an equipment detector. It is not known whether MEDDS meets the required efficiency.
Annex A: Abbreviations
|Advanced Hand Held Mine Detector
US Code number for the Schiebel Handheld mine detector
Airborne Standoff Minefield Detection System
Anti personnel (mines)
Anti tank (mines)
Belvoir Research, Development & Engineering Center
Catapult Launched Fuel Air Explosive
Department of Humanitarian Affairs
Department of Defense (US)
Explosive ordnance Disposal
Fuel Air Explosive
National Defence Research Establishment (Sweden)
Full Width Mine Rake
Global Positioning System
Hand Held Mine Detector
High Power Microwaves
International Committee of the Red Cross
Independent European Programme Group
Infra-red Line Scan
Kilometres per hour
Mine Clearing Blade
Mine Clearing Rake
Mine Detection Vehicle
MECHEM Explosive & Drug Detection System
Minefield Detection Using Reconnaissance Assets
Ministry of Defence (UK)
NATO Army Armaments Group
Research & Development
Surface Launched Unit Fuel Air Explosive
Scatterable Mine Clearance Device (see also SMP)
Surface Mine Plough
Track Width Mine Plough
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
Unexploded Explosive ordnance
Vehicle Magnetic Signature Duplicator
Annex B: Publications Reviewed
European Space Agency Bulletin
International Defence Newsletter
International Defense & Technologie
International Defense Review
Jane's Defence Weekly
Joint Force Quarterly
Journal of the Royal United Services Institute Australia
The National Interest
Peace & Security
Physics & Society
Revista Espanola de Defensa
The Royal Engineers Journal
The RUSI Journal
Soldat und Technik
The South African Journal of International Affairs
The Word Today
|Country of Publication
Annex C: Companies and Agencies Contacted
AI Cambridge Ltd.
Dipl-Ing Hans Schiebel Elektronische Gerate GmbH
Ebinger Pruf-und Ortungstechnik GmbH
Emrad Ltd. ERA Technology Ltd.
Field Emission Ltd.
GEC Sensors Ltd.
GEC-Marconi Avionics Ltd.
GEC-Marconi Materials Technology
Geospace Consultancy Services Ltd
Graseby Security Guartel Ltd.
Henotex (1981) Ltd.
Institut Dr Forster Prufgeratebau GmbH & Co. KG
Marconi Radar & Control Systems Ltd.
Nanoquest Defence Products Ltd.
Oceanfix International Ltd.
Pathfinder Lighting Products Ltd.
PK Electronics International Ltd.
S & D Security (Equipment) Ltd.
Schonstedt Instrument Company
Science Applications International Corporation
Thom EMI Electronics Ltd.
Top-optic (RH) Ltd.
Vallon GmbH Verlink Ltd.
White's Electronics (UK) Ltd.
Aardvark Clearmine Ltd.
AB Precision (Poole) Ltd.
Alvis Defence Systems Division
Alvis Logistics Ltd.
BDL Systems Ltd.
Hunting Engineering Ltd.
Pearson Engineering Ltd.
PW Allen & Co Ltd.
Pylon Electronics Inc.
Richmond Electronics & Engineering
Belvoir RD & E Center Countermine
Development & Engineering Division
Bofors Electronics AB
Defence Research Agency
EMI Division Royal Signals & Radar
Institute for Military Security, Zurich
Jane's Data Division
Land Systems operational Requirements S
UK Ministry of Defence
Martin Marietta Electronics & Missile
MSI Group Remote Control Section
Naval Explosive ordnance Disposal
office of the Project Manager Mines,
Countermine & Demolitions
Robotics Institute, Carnegie Mellon
Annex D: Countries with a Known Mines Problem
These lists include all countries with a reported landmines problem; some are very much more severe than others. It is very unlikely that this is a complete list but there is insufficient evidence yet to add other likely countries.
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Falkland Islands
Middle East and North Africa
- South Africa
Asia and Pacific
- New Caledonia
- Sri Lanka
- Viet Nam
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