When mine clearance operations closed down on June 12, 2004, for the last time in Honduras, U.S. Army Night Vision and Electronic Sensors Directorate (NVESD) prototype equipment on trial was there to help complete the work started nearly one decade ago. Progress in reaching this milestone had stalled in 2002. Lack of a solution to a troublesome combination of environmental and threat factors remained beyond the capability of normal clearance procedures at one of the last remaining mine-suspected areas left in Honduras. Conventional clearance methods had revealed evidence of a mixture of anti-personnel and anti-tank mines buried under a meter of highly mineralized sediments. The Honduran deminers and the Organization of American States (OAS) project sponsors contacted the U.S. Humanitarian Demining (HD) Research and Development (R&D) Team for assistance in clearing these deeply buried mines, which were undetectable and unreachable by ordinary means. To meet this challenge, engineers from the HD team devised a two-step mechanical process based on a specially adapted, multi-tooled "Sifting Excavator." The development and deployment of this system from start to end covered 18 months and is a useful case study in the U.S. HD R&D program's commitment to helping deminers and advancing the practice of demining through technology development.



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