Africa Aerospace & Defence 2016

Saving lives on the move [AAD16D2]

15 September 2016

A live demonstration to South African Army officials ahead of AAD 2016 highlighted the vehicle-mounted mine-clearance capabilities of DCD Protected Mobility and its global partners (Hangar 7, Stands CW19 and ON2).

Several Husky vehicles at Armscor’s Gerotek test range, north of Pretoria, sported a host of peripheral technologies, all of which form the ‘toolkit’ to counter the ever-increasing sophistication of asymmetric warfare. Military minds seem to agree that mines and IEDs have already become entrenched on the battlefield, with the attendant threat to personnel and civilians.

“A key driver for us is to save lives, while assuring mobility of military forces and civilians on the battlefield and in the aftermath of conflict situations,” explained DCD general manager Cornelius Grundling. “More than 1,500 of our Husky VMMDs [vehicle-mounted mine detection] now operating around the world, on five continents, undoubtedly point to a winner.”

With the Husky in various guises, DCD and its partners – Critical Solutions International (CSI), TORC Robotics and TUb – have become world leaders in route clearance.

“To date the Husky has endured more than 7,000 landmine hits without direct casualties, including a massive 100kg blast recently in Turkey. The two occupants of the Husky 2G survived and the vehicle was made operational in one day,” Grundling said.

A first for South Africa – in fact, for Africa – was DCD this week demonstrating the Husky Autonomous, developed in line with the ‘saving lives’ philosophy. The user required a safe stand-off or remote capability, with the vehicle to be operated in manned, teleoperated or full-autonomous mode.

The specifications for the very scalable Husky Autonomous included a route clearance speed of 25km/h, the ability to recognise obstructions, an emergency stop and cut-off system, and magnetic pulse induction detection and marking without a driver.

Importantly, it had to feature PTZ (pan, tilt, zoom) and other cameras for enhanced surveillance and situational awareness, as well as a CAN-bus (controlled area network) with a new panel display.

A Husky fitted with the proven step-frequency 3D-Radar GPR (ground-penetrating radar) was shown to detect both metallic and non-metallic buried threats, in real time, with 3D sub-surface visualisation. The radar is ideal for both route and area clearance, according to Juan Hernandez, vice president business development at Chemring North America. “It can penetrate to a depth of 1.4m, and although mines are not planted that deep, unexploded artillery or weapons caches are sometimes found at that depth,” Hernandez explained. “It is optimised for uneven terrain, with a high probability of detection, low false alarm rate, and importantly, a commercially available ITARfree [International Traffic in Arms Regulations] system.”

DCD and its partners also introduced the Husky interrogation system, an articulating manipulator arm to provide safe stand-off capability in the interrogation process. It extends beyond 3m and is able to lift up to 70kg.

Two of the company’s Springbuck Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles – the standard SD and extra-duty XD variant with added protection, payload and performance – are on display.

(496 words)