Countermine / Counter IED
Landmines have been a long-standing practice of war. However, they threaten the everyday lives of innocent civilians. The Department of State estimates that some 60 million mines currently pose a significant hazard in some 70 countries.
The problem is most acute in countries already ravaged by conflict, such as along the Cambodia and Thailand borders. In response, the United States and other countries have come together to form the Humanitarian Demining Project in an effort to assist those lacking the requisite resources and infrastructure to solve their landmine problems.
So, along with its mission to develop systems for military application that detect and neutralize mines, minefields and unexploded ordnance, NVESD’s Countermine Division also applies this technology to humanitarian operations.
The mission of the U.S. Army's Humanitarian De-mining research and development program is to develop technology to efficiently and safely remove and neutralize landmines worldwide.
Technology development focuses on the areas of personnel protection, handheld detectors, wide area detection, mechanical clearance, vegetation clearance, and mine awareness.
A majority of the systems developed for this mission is based on Ground Penetrating Radar technologies.
Ground-penetrating radar (GPR) is a method that employs radar pulses to image the subsurface. This non-destructive method uses electromagnetic radiation and detects the reflected signals from subsurface structures. GPR can be used in a variety of media, including rock, soil, ice, fresh water, pavements and structures. It can detect objects, changes in material, and voids and cracks.
GPR uses transmitting and receiving antennas or only one antenna that performs both functions. The transmitting antenna radiates short pulses of high-frequency (usually polarized) radio waves into the ground. When the wave hits a buried object or a boundary with a different dielectric constant the receiving antenna records variations in the return signal.
The depth range of GPR is limited by the electrical conductivity of the ground, the transmitted center frequency and the radiated power. As conductivity increases, the penetration depth also decreases. This is because the electromagnetic energy more quickly dissipates into heat, causing a loss in signal strength at depth. Optimal depth penetration is achieved in ice where the depth of penetration can achieve several hundred meters. Good penetration is also achieved in dry sandy soils or massive dry materials such as granite, limestone, and concrete where the depth of penetration could be up to 15 m. In moist and/or clay-laden soils and soils with high electrical conductivity, penetration is sometimes only a few centimeters.
Ground-penetrating radars are generally in contact with the ground for the strongest signal strength; however, GPR air launched antennas can be used above the ground.
Improvised Explosive Devices, or IEDs, have emerged as a lethal weapon against our forces. This threat will continue to endanger our forces in current and future conflicts.
These devices have caused severe disruption to operations and have cost many lives. IEDs are bombs constructed and deployed in ways other than in conventional military action. They may be partially comprised of conventional military explosives such as an artillery round attached to a detonating mechanism.
Initially developed by NVESD and subsequently funded by the Joint IED Defeat Organization, or JIEDDO, the Interrogating Arm provides a capability for standoff detection of IEDs in route clearance applications using the probing/digging tool to expose objects and a metal detector visible camera to identify targets.
The system is designed to increase survivability of US Forces performing Route Clearance Missions as well as to improve OPTEMPO for Route Clearance Missions.
This add-on interrogation arm provides a new capability to physically interrogate suspicious objects without dismounting from the vehicle or calling in support. The result is more productive route clearance teams. During Operation Enduring Freedom, the interrogation arm offers a unique capability because many of the roads cannot support the larger support vehicles.