2018 To Walk the Earth in Safety: Department of Defense Humanitarian Demining Research and Development Program
Initiated in 1994, the Humanitarian Demining Research and Development (HD R&D) Program delivers the latest technology solutions to the most challenging landmine and UXO detection and clearance efforts, with emphasis on improving technologies for mine/UXO detection, and mechanical mine/UXO and vegetation clearance. The program rapidly develops, tests, demonstrates, and validates internationally shareable technologies that increase the effectiveness, efficiency, and safety of humanitarian demining. Such technologies operate in high-risk areas where manual clearance or mine detection dogs are deemed impractical. Without these technologies, operations partners would be unable to demine and release sites. Host-nation demining partners (foreign militaries, nongovernmental organizations, and mine action centers) test and operate equipment in active minefields and provide feedback for future R&D enhancements.
In 2017, the HD R&D Program’s technologies cleared 7.9 million square meters (approximately 2,000 acres) of the world’s toughest minefields, removing or destroying 19,100 mines and items of UXO. Of particular note was the program’s Raptor low-metal content anti-tank mine clearance systems operating in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world, with half of the hazardous area contaminated by anti-tank mines. The HALO Trust is operating three Raptor systems and clearing very large areas of suspect land: 6.3 million square meters in Afghanistan to date (approximately 1,556 acres). The recovered land is utilized for roads and agriculture.
To date, the HD R&D Program’s technologies have cleared 53.2 million square meters (approximately 13,146 acres) and removed or destroyed approximately 187,400 mines and UXO worldwide. Since 1995, the program has fielded technologies in support of 203 operational field evaluations in 39 countries and the Palestinian Territories. In 2017, HD R&D performed testing and operational field evaluations in Afghanistan, Angola, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chile, Colombia, Iraq, Kosovo, Laos, Lebanon, Palestinian Territories, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe.