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Anti-Landmine Arrows
Jeremy Faludi, 27 Nov 05

Land mines are a problem we've mentioned many solutions for. Well, here's a new one: arrows. New Scientist reported a few days ago that Raytheon has developed a mortar shell containing hundreds of heavy steel arrows inside, which are shot out as the shell is coming down. The arrows are massive enough, hit hard enough, and spread out enough to "wipe out every mine in an area several metres square, even when the mines are buried under sand or under nearly a metre of water." This disarms mines from a safe distance, without having to know exactly where or how many there are--large areas can be cleared by firing shots in a systematic overlapping pattern. The New Scientist article is the only thing I could find about it online--even Raytheon's site doesn't have it--but I'm sure if it goes from invention to product we'll hear more about it eventually.

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Am I right in thinking that the USA still hasn't signed the International Land Mine Ban Treaty? But Raytheon wouldn't make as much profit that way (selling the anti-mine arrows that is; they may even make the land mines as well).

Posted by: JN2 on 28 Nov 05

America wont sign the treaty because america is developing landmines that dont stick around too long and because they have yet to develope anything that can realy replace the landmine.

Posted by: wintermane on 28 Nov 05

JN2: you're quite right.

"too long" is obviously a judgement call that most of the rest of the world doesn't share. No one necessarily has something to "replace" these abominations and that did not stop the outright ban. Refusing security council authority, not signing climate change and criminal court treaties, the US has consistently refused to do anything to diminish its unilateral options.

Funding Raytheon to continue development on this might be a way to blunt the criticism. The technology doesn't seem very elegant though; I don't understand why robots aren't used for both identification and clearing. We probably spend more on R&D for automated vacuum cleaners than on landmine identification and clearing robots.

Posted by: Daniel Haran on 28 Nov 05

I dont think there are any american MAKERS of land mines as alot of other places can make em far cheaper then us and america doesnt actauly use em currently.

As for the climate treaty kyoto was about as effective as sending in maralyn manson to shaparone a sweet 16 slumber party.

Climate change is still gona happen at abut the exact same time and in the exact same way as before the treaty.

As for beyond kyoto unless it can get china and india in on it its useless.

Besides global warming will end soon enough when nuclear winter covers the earth.

Posted by: wintermane on 29 Nov 05

While I do agree that land mines are horrific, the problem of building robots smart enough to clear them from the highly complex environments of the real world is many orders of magnitude harder than the brownian motion of a Roomba. So if should be no surprise more money is spent on Roombas than on real robotics and artificial intelligence.

Still, you'd figure DARPA would spend a few billion on this if only to improve the defense of our soldiers against such travesties. The side benefit would be enormous to civilians after hostilities have ceased.

Then again on another hand, maybe if land mines were easy to deal with and clear, that might paradoxically lead to increased use as weapons of terror against civilian populations.

Tough problem.

Posted by: Pace Arko on 30 Nov 05


to clarify, the U.S. currently makes, trains and uses the M-18 Claymore mine, a mine that shoots thousands of bb's as the plastic explosive ignites. These can be fired by a remote trigger, daisychained, or any other countless creative ways Rangers figure out. Also the M-16 bounding mine and the M-14 blast mine are produced in the U.S. It's estimated that on average, mines cost about $3 each to make and $1000 to clear, though most weapons manufacturers won't give exact numbers.

The U.S. Military does not use mines in combat currently because there is no "practical" purpose in urban MOUT combat. I do not think we would hesitate to use them in a more "mine-friendly" combat.

from what I understand, our continued support of more typical landmines has a lot to do with the Korean DMZ. The U.S. cannot practically decommission these landmines nor wish to.

I am not defending landmines in any way. But I believe as long as Korea remains divided, the U.S. will not change it's position on landmines.

I do not see why we would have to sign a protocol to do what is obviously right. So, as far as China and India go, or anyone else for that matter, I don't care if they join the Kyoto Protocol.

Posted by: minimus on 9 Dec 05



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