TRIP WITH A MINECAT
The Journal of Mine Action Vol. 3, No. 1, we spotlighted the Compact
230-Minecat, a multi-role platform suitable for both military and
humanitarian applications whose primary role is to be a mine-clearance
vehicle. Since that article in the summer of 1999, the Minecat has had
a proper education, going through a series of tests in various landscapes
and in front of tough judges.
Issue 4.1 | February 2000 | Information in this issue may be outdated. Click here to link to the most recent issue.
is serious business and before a new piece of equipment can be put on the
world market, it has to prove itself in rigorous settings. After all, the
real customers in the demining market are those people whose lives and livelihoods
depend upon the clearing of their land. J. Barry Middlemass, owner of the
Lockwood Beck consulting company, brings us through a series of Minecat testing
trips on this road trip from Norway to Kosovo.
A few thoughts
on the past few months of the Minecat.
Since the last
entry in the magazine we have continued in the comprehensive testing of the
are now filtering through with the answers to confirm our design and
the way ahead.
one (1) NoDeCo from FFI (Military Testing Establishment)
two (2) NoDeCo from Military Engineers (Norway) Live Explosives
only - released soon)
three (3) From KOSOVO by NPA Live Mines November '99
been many and various including the International Trust Fund (ITF). Their
representative was given the opportunity to see our testing and sit in the
vehicle as it was flailing. The experience gave him a much better understanding
of the equipment. We hope that future customers will use the ITF for funding donations.
Our company, NGOs and others should benefit from their unique arrangement
with the United States.
simulated tests were carried out by NPA, (in various soil conditions, gradients,
fields, tracks, and scrub-including cold Norwegian wind and rain) they
agreed that the machine would be taken to Kosovo, funded by NoDeCo but under
the control of NPA.
Middlemass, November 1999
En route to Kosovo
we stopped off in France, at the military training area of Mourmalon. Here
we carried out a presentation to members of the military, manufacturers and
NGOs, and the Ambassador for Mines (France). The presentation was the worst
the author has ever seen. This was entirely due to the time constraints and
security of the equipment, as the vehicle was assembled directly from the
two 20 ft. ISO containers and driven directly to the site, without tightening
or tensioning attachments and testing the balance of the flail. After a brief
description of a French "MURPHY" the machine still managed dig to 15 cm under
normal conditions and dug into the ground 50 cm after demolishing some fairly
dense scrub. The second demonstration was for the Army Staff and Army Experimental
Establishments only. Under the control of the Military Engineer Staff they
carried out four detonations:
- 500 GMS HE
(for effects on chains and deflector) No Damage
- 3 kgms HE
- No Damage
- 7 kgms
Non metallic Anti-Tank Mine Flail Disrupted the Mine - No Damage
- 7 kgms plus
he charge (Command detonated- under the flail) On detonation the
chain above the explosion and the head of the chain each side of the explosion
was lost. No further damage.
after the demonstration the Minecat was reloaded into the containers, under
the supervision and stopwatches of the Army Staff. The complete load was
ready to move off to Kosovo within one hour.
Middlemass, November 1999
arrival in Kosovo the machine had the back up of only one Operator/Mechanic,
due to bereavement in the family of the second Op/Mech. I believe it must
be made clear at this point that the back up personnel of NoDeCo are not
ex military and consequently, they cannot back up the "Operational" use
of the machine.
point, I must stress, is something which at times is overlooked by the
NGO or agency using the machine. The staff with the machine is there purely
as advisors on the Mechanical and the Operating side of the equipment.
Due to financial restrictions, "Technical/Operational" advisors cannot
always be present during the early yet very important phases of the equipment’s
life. This situation puts a tremendous strain and responsibility on the
"civilian" mechanic/operator, who only wants the best for the machine.
I make this comment because, with the other member of staff missing, it
was not possible to rebalance and check out the machine after its trip
to France. A consequence of this was that the NGO wanted to start testing
immediately after the machine arrived, mainly due to the deterioration
of the weather and the need to have the men working with the equipment
who had previously been allocated. The first test was carried out before
the arrival of our Chief Technician (Mech), who on arrival carried out
the re-balancing and checked out the remainder of checks on the machine.
Finally, being satisfied that the Minecat was working to near maximum
efficiency, the second series of tests were carried out with complete
results as follows:
AND TYPE DEPLOYED:
Blast/Fragmentation (PMR-2a/PMR-3a) including trip wire
All mines were
cleared as follows:
One (1) Anti-Tank (Loss of three (3) chain/heads)
Three (3) Anti-Personnel
One (1) Trip-wire Blast/Frag
All other devices (Broken)
The area of
ground used for theses series of tests was compacted by the previous use
of many heavy tracked and wheeled vehicles, making the test extremely hard
for the penetration of the heads of the flail. The difficult ground will
no doubt mean the use of an alternative chain head, if the customer requires
a "digging" factor as well as the neutralization/clearance of devices.
Middlemass, November 1999
and What Next
People’s Aid (NPA) has given the approval for the purchase of the Minecat.
Hopefully funding by the Norwegian government will allow them to purchase
this badly needed equipment and fulfill a season’s work in their areas in
Kosovo. Another agency is pressing NoDeCo for the purchase of this particular
machine and that is UNIPAK, a company who has carried out a lot of good clearance
work around the city of Sarajevo and who has been sub-contracted to RONCO
of the U.S. UNIPAK have been using NoDeCo’s prototype Flail (UP-1) in their
clearance of areas since last July ’99, particularly against the powerful
PROM-1, and have had great success to date. The company now has frozen the
design of the COMPACT 30 MINECAT and will continue focusing on the versatility
of various add-on equipment for the platform. A sub two- (2) meter Minecat
is still in the frame for various customers with different "operational" requirements.