Electronic Weapons: Clearing Landmines From The Air


July 26, 2008: The U.S. Army has developed a sensor/software device called ASTAMIDS (Airborne Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Minefield Detection System) that enables helicopters or UAVs to spot minefields, and warn approaching troops. ASTAMIDS uses video and heat sensing to generate data for pattern recognition software. The computer program spots what is probably a minefield. ASTAMIDS has to be used while the aircraft is flying at 300 feet, no faster than 125 kilometers an hour. This allows a 70 meter wide area to be scanned and analyzed. The main function of ASTAMIDS is to detect a route, free of mines, for a rapidly advancing ground force.

Also being developed are weapons for destroying mines. The navy already uses one, that incorporates a 30mm cannon, mounted on a helicopter, that fires at (and destroys) floating or submerged mines that have been spotted by other helicopter borne sensors. Ground forces have long used explosives to destroy landmines. But a precision machine-gun could work as well, but would need some pretty nifty software to do the job.




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