Berlin - The German military is deploying to Afghanistan the German Route Clearing Package, which is designed to detect mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) along convoy routes.
Each system consists of four mobile platforms: a Wiesel 1 remote-control detection vehicle (RCDV) to locate explosive devices; Fuchs command-and-control vehicle (CCV); Mini Minewolf disposal vehicle; and MAN Multi FSA logistics vehicle for transport. The system conducts remote-control reconnaissance of exposed or buried IEDs and undetonated explosive devices; marks the positions of identified objects, and verifies them; disposes of, neutralizes or destroys explosive devices; and documents missions—all while providing maximum protection for the crew.
The BWB, Germany’s federal agency for defense technology and procurement, earlier selected Rheinmetall to supply seven systems by year-end.
The RCDV has a built-in dual sensor with ground-penetrating radar and metal detector, the only system integrating both, says Harald Westermann, managing director of Rheinmetall Land Systems, who describes this as a “key feature.” The dual sensor detects the position of buried and exposed mines and IEDs through changes in the density of the ground. The combined evaluation of different sensor data pinpoints objects. Storing the characteristics of planted explosives in an electronic library increases the speed and precision of detection. The detection system is in the rear of the vehicle, so the RCDV moves in reverse when in the remote-control mode, guided by an operator inside the Fuchs CCV. In safer areas, a driver sits in the RCDV and operates it.
The remotely operated Mini MineWolf, from MineWolf Systems AG, neutralizes unexploded ordnance. The vehicle can be equipped with a tiller or flail for clearing antipersonnel and medium antitank mines, and it withstands blasts from these as well as fragmentation mines. It provides continuous ground penetration to 25 cm (9.8 in.) and removes vegetation.
The CCV is a Fuchs 1A8 armored personnel carrier with two independent operator-control stations—one for the remote operation of the RCDV and Mini MineWolf and the other for evaluating signals from the RCDV’s dual sensor. The crew on board the Fuchs command vehicle uses an integrated video system to continuously monitor operations.
Two Mini MineWolf systems have been delivered to the German military for training and are scheduled to go to Afghanistan this month, where they will be used as an interim solution with the Wiesel RCDV.
Westermann expects this to be followed by a contract in 2012 for the Fuchs 1A8 KAI reconnaissance and identification vehicle, equipped with a manipulator arm developed by Rheinmetall for bomb disposal. The arm has an operating reach of more than 10 meters (33 ft.) and is able to pick up heavy objects at a safe distance. At the end of the manipulator arm is a dual ground-penetrating radar and electromagnetic induction sensor. Manipulation of the stabilized arm is by a center tool control.
The KAI excavates objects through soil or paved roads with an air spade for visual inspection by camera and verification of whether they are mines, IEDs or false alarms. Mines and IEDs can be neutralized or destroyed by being pulled out of the ground with an explosive disposal charge or by mechanical activation of the fuze.
The KAI is also equipped with a multitool consisting of a gripper, ripper teeth and fork.
The manipulator can be used for visual inspection of bridges, buildings and canals, as well as for recovering personnel with a rescue platform that carries two soldiers and is stabilized to prevent motion sickness.
Westermann says the KAI can mount a high-power microwave and laser.