February 19, 2010:
Britain has used, for the first time, in Marjah, Afghanistan, the latest version of their bangalore torpedo. The new device, called Python, is a rocket that carries an explosives filled, 228 meter (700 foot) tube filled with 1.4 tons of explosives. When the tube lands, the explosives go off, destroying over 90 percent of mines, or other explosive devices, in an area 180 meters long and 7 meters wide. The cleared area has to be double checked for mines or devices that survived Python, but this can be done quickly, and troops and vehicles can rush through the cleared lane if they are under fire.
The Python is basically an update of a similar system developed in the 1950s (Giant Viper). The U.S. has a similar system (the Mk 154 Mine Clearance System), which uses rockets to propel a cable (stuffed with explosives) down a road. The explosives are detonated, and all mines, and road side bombs, are detonated or disabled over an area of 14 by 100 meters. The Mk 154 was originally designed to quickly clear mines during combat. But it turns out to work against booby traps and roadside bombs as well. All these systems are developed from the World War II era bangalore torpedo, where the explosives filled tube had to be pushed into position. The original bangalore torpedo was developed during World War II, for quickly clearing barbed wire barriers.