Armor: Zap And Roll If You Want To Live

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November 7, 2017: An Israeli firm has developed AMMAD MK II, an improved electronic device for detecting and detonating anti-vehicle mines or roadside bombs that use a magnetic sensor to detect a vehicle and trigger the explosives. The AMMAD MK II does this more reliably and at a longer distance than earlier models of similar devices. Most current devices operate using a pair of long poles protruding from the front of the vehicle and these detectors are often damaged when they detonate a mine or bomb.

Devices like AMMAD MK II appeared after World War II for use with rollers and plows widely used previously to detect and detonate or push aside anti-vehicle mines. These rollers and plows were either permanently attached to special mine-clearing vehicles or came as an optional attachment for some armored vehicles.

By the late 20th century the roller/plow attachment system was most common and the electronic devices were added as electronic fuzes for mines became more common. For example since 2013 a Russian firm has offered for sale a new mine-clearing system (TMS-S) that can be attached to tanks or armored engineer vehicles quickly (in 95 minutes) and allows the mine clearing vehicle to move down a road at up to 15 kilometers an hour, clearing any mines. The basic tool is the rollers (heavy barrels that are rigged to run in front a vehicle and set off mines). The rollers are heavy enough to simulate the weight of a vehicle. In addition there are plow-like devices on each side of the device to cut wires used to detonate some types of mines. There are also two poles carrying an electromagnetic device (the UTPBM) that are said to be capable of disabling new mines that detect a specific acoustic, thermal, or seismic information about passing vehicles and only explode if a specific profile is detected. There are two versions of TMS-S. The 13 ton version is for armored engineer vehicles, while a smaller (fewer rollers) 7 ton version is used to mount on T-72/80/90 tanks. With the rollers in the up position (so they do not contact the road) the using vehicle can move at up to 45 kilometers an hour on a road.

These older (add-on plow/rollers) mine clearing devices had proved useful in Iraq and Afghanistan and were frequently used. The most frequently used American roller gear (SPARK, for Self-Protection Adaptive Roller Kit) was built to be used by a heavy truck or MRAP (heavily armored trucks). Over 300 SPARK systems were sent to Iraq, where they detonated over 70 anti-vehicle mines and "proofed" thousands of kilometers of road, verifying that the routes were mine free. All this saved hundreds of American lives, which means a lot when you consider that only 4,500 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq, about half of them on the roads (mostly from roadside bombs and mines). A customized (for local conditions) version of SPARK was designed for Afghanistan as well. Other NATO nations used roller kits, often of local design. Israeli firms have taken the lead in developing more effective sensors and disabling devices for use in vehicles moving through areas where these mines or bombs might be encountered.

 


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