JCB has modified four machine models to help clear minefields in Afghanistan. The machines will be operated by The HALO Trust, a global landmine clearance charity. Its program in Afghanistan is said to be the largest humanitarian landmine clearance project in the world.
The modified machines include:
- 457ZX wheeled loading shovel,
- JCB Hydradig,
- JCB Teletruk and
- 8008 micro excavator.
These four machines are already in use with the project. JCB says each machine features HALO's white livery which is used to denote the neutral, humanitarian nature of its activities.
New armored excavator aids removal of IEDs
JCB is also providing HALO with a new heavily armored JCB 220X tracked excavator which will arrive shortly at the project site. Blast resistant armored plating is used on the cab to protect the machine and operators. It will be used for removal of pressure-plate IEDs which JCB says pose the highest threat level in the region. A quick hitch on the excavator can quickly change between a general digging bucket and a rake attachment for safe and effective dislodging of mines from the ground.
The excavator's cab also features 100 mm glazing and three layers of blast protection fabricated from Armox 440T strengthened steel. This material is specifically designed for vehicle armor to provide penetration and blast resistance.
Protection included on the JCB 220X was provided by Martin Williams (Hull) Ltd which includes a division specializing in the design and build of armored vehicles, says JCB. It has completed projects over the years for the UK government's Ministry of Defense, the United Nations as well as international charities like HALO.
"HALO has carried out mechanized mine clearance for many years in Afghanistan, but the original four JCB models allowed us to renew our ageing fleet and brought working efficiencies at a crucial time. This new armored JCB 220X will further help us to reduce deaths and injuries from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and it is good to be working with British companies, technology and engineers to take this off-the-shelf excavator and up-armor it to suit our specific needs to help save lives," said HALO Trust’s Head of Region Afghanistan, Middle East and North Africa, Calvin Ruysen, in JCB's press release announcing the project.
"If you look at the latest UN report on Afghanistan, with IEDs accounting for the second largest number of conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries, we are keen to expand our mine-clearing capability and as a humanitarian charity we want to address that as quickly as possible, so we look forward to seeing the machine join its stablemates in Afghanistan very soon."