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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Demining vehicle to make Cambodian debut

Demining vehicle to make Cambodian debut

S WEDEN has chosen Cambodia as the testing ground for a futuristic mine-clearing vehicle

that can work more than 7,000 times faster and seven times cheaper than a single

deminer.

The prototype - the remote-controlled MV 103C - will arrive in January next year

for a six-month trial, according to a Swedish military delegation that recently visited

Cambodia.

"On average it takes one hour to clear two square meters of a mined area manually,"

said Major Gert Wamfors. "This machine, which has already been tested under

the most severe conditions in Sweden, will clear 14,400 square meters per hour."

"If it costs 70 cents to clear one square meter manually, this machine should

cost only ten cents to clear the same space" he said.

Wamfors did not disclose the price of an MV 103C.

The 45-ton machine, which, according to United Nations specifications, is designed

to withstand the impact of blasts from 12 kilograms of TNT - the amount of explosives

usually packed into anti-tank mines - can destroy rubber and plastic encased APMs

as well as hard-cased POM-Z variety, said Warrant Officer RL Kerel, technical advisor

to the Cambodian Mines Action Center (CMAC).

The "Spitfire Demining Tool", a rotating device which is mounted at the

front of the armored chassis, triggers and shatters mines as the "prime mover"

- the vehicle - rolls over them.

The Spitfire's heavy duty carbide metal sprockets, Kerel said, can dig as deep as

one meter.

"The rotating tool will have the capability of being mounted on other armored

vehicles," he said, explaining that modifications would have to be made so that

the Spitfire could work on all terrain.

He said that as the MV 103C would not work in rice paddies, where it would be bogged

down by its own weight, any future automated demining would have to be done in tandem

with on-going manual demining.

He said that mine-sniffing dogs would also be brought in from Sweden to facilitate

the painstaking process of pinpointing mine fields.

"The Swedes use dogs to assist in the detection of mines and munitions in the

ground," he said. "The dogs have ten times the smelling capacity of humans,

and provided they are trained to detect explosives can detect mines which are buried

as deep as two meters."

Research and development by the Sweden-based Central Logistics Regiment into the

automated deminer - already three years in the making - has been commissioned by

the Swedish International Development Agency, which funds CMAC's mine clearing program,

said Major Wamfors.

The MV 103C prototype, according to Karl-Erik Johansson, one of its inventors, was

tested in the harsh environment of the Swedish permafrost.

"We put landmines in the Swedish ground, which, during the winter, is frozen

stone-hard like concrete," he said. "We have demonstrated the working principal

of the tool that it will destroy land mines, even in the most rigorous conditions."

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