By Capt. Jesus Campuzano
First published in
SFOR Informer #73
Vidovice - Located close to the Croatia border, about 20 kilometres from Brcko, Vidovice is one of the villages located in the Posavina Corridor, in the Sava River valley. This was one of the most contested areas during the war. The outcome was a heavily mine contaminated area, and many difficulties for the reconstruction of the local economy. A good example is the road from the Arizona SFOR route to Vidovice, it runs several kilometres between colourful plastic tapes warning people of mines.
Against this background the German Welt-Entminungs-Hilfe e.V., a non-governmental organisation which supports mine clearance around the world, is developing a long term program to clear the municipalities of Vidovice, Kopanice and Jenjic over the next three years.
Tamar Consulting GmbH is engaged by contract to conduct and manage on site this de-mining program. To achieve the goal, all available de-mining systems are in use: Manual De-mining, Mechanical De-mining, Mine Detection Dogs and vegetation cutting machines for the preparation of areas.
The Mechanical de-mining is executed by the FFG-Minebreaker 2000/2 system. The vehicle, which is based on a Leopard 1 chassis, (but which can be fitted to most tanks). It is protected by additional armoured steel plates and liners and is designed to withstand the detonation of all common mines without serious damage. Mounted at the front of the vehicle is a hydraulically powered tilling drum, that can set off or chew into harmless pieces anti-personnel and anti-tanks mines, with virtually no risk to the personnel. "The tilling drum is fitted with heavy-duty tungsten carbide teeth. If a mine blows up these teeth are the only piece damaged, but are cheap and can be exchanged within minutes," said Jorg Kamper, the engineer responsible for the machines design.
The vehicle just needs a one man crew who works in a protected cabin, made of 20 millimetres of armoured steel and 70 millimetres armoured glass. The cabin also has special shock absorbers to decrease blast pressure. "Now it is mounted on a Leopard 1 chassis, but is a modular system and can fit almost every prime movers such as T55, T72, M48, M60," added Kamper.
But probably, the most impressive part of the system is its high de-mining capacity. "A team of 30 experienced deminers can clear up to a 1000 square metres per day. The Minebreaker can clear from 1,5 to 2 ha., depending on the soil. It speeds up the operation by a factor of 15 to 20, and with a probability of 99.6 %" said proudly Kamper. Beside Tamar Consulting GmbH's teams are working with the deminers, from the Engineer Company of the 4th Guards Bde. of the HVO. They are being trained to operate the Minebreaker in order to improve their de-mining operations. "At the beginning, we did not have adequate equipment for the de-mining. With this machine, it's great, quicker and, overall, more secure for the people. It is not perfect, some small areas like corners need manual de-mining, but anyway it is a great advantage," said SSgt Ivo Lukacevic from the 4th Guards Bde. Headquarters.
A team from the US "Catamount" Task Force, based in Camp McGovern and made up of soldiers from the US 1st Engineer Bn., is in charge of monitoring the de-mining activities of the 4th Guards Bde. "They are receiving training so as to operate the Minebreaker 2000, and also with Mine Detecting Dogs. First they use the Minebreaker and, after one or two weeks, the dogs point out the remians of the mines and the deminers can remove them. The monitoring of this system is different, but is not more difficult or dangerous than manual de-mining," explained 2Lt. Robert George, platoon leader.