Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
August 29, 2006
New HSTAMIDS Landmine Detector Pinpoints the "Hidden Killers" in Humanitarian Demining Operations
[Prepared by Robert C. Doheny, Principal Deputy, Resources, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, U.S. Department of Defense, on behalf of the U.S. Humanitarian Mine Action Program. This inter-agency Program is comprised of the U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Agency for International Developmentís Patrick J. Leahy War Victims Fund, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.]
"HSTAMIDS is the main breakthrough in mine clearance since 1940." - Guy Willoughby, Director, The HALO Trust
HSTAMIDS is a dual sensor system that integrates an electromagnetic induction (EMI) metal detector and a wideband ground penetrating radar (GPR). The system, developed by L-3 CyTerra, incorporates ground compensation and sensor data fusion software that provides the capability to discriminate landmines from clutter. To date 2,000 systems have been fielded with the U.S. military. By the end of 2006, the number delivered will reach 3,100, with deliveries flowing from the recent production contract amount of 17,000 systems. The HSTAMIDS used in humanitarian mine action operations in Cambodia, Afghanistan, and in Thailand is the same production system that is standard issue with the U.S. Armed Forces.
The U.S. has rigorously evaluated this system with developmental, operational, and production testing. During field testing, the system encountered more than 10,000 mine targets and over 50,000 pieces of clutter in widely varied environmental conditions in nine test arenas around the world. This system underwent field testing with five different humanitarian demining teams from Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, and Thailand before beginning humanitarian mine action operations.
Several partners from the International Test and Evaluation Program for Humanitarian Demining (http://www.itep.ws/) to include Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, joined the United States in testing HSTAMIDS with humanitarian deminers for the Humanitarian Demining field evaluations and demonstrations in Southeast Asia and Africa.
During this particular series of field tests, the HSTAMIDS encountered over 2,000 mine targets and 4,600 pieces of clutter. Although the tests were extremely challenging -- 15 different mine types, two-thirds of which were low metallic -- the newly trained HSTAMIDS operators significantly outperformed experienced metal detector operators. The metal detectors employed in these tests are currently in wide use throughout the mine action community.
Based on HSTAMIDS performance and feedback from the newly trained operators following the worldwide tests, The HALO Trust, Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) and MgM (Menschen gegen Minen) urged the U.S. Department of Defense to accelerate the operational employment and evaluation of the system into mine clearance programs. In response to these requests, the United States constructed permanent HSTAMIDS training facilities in Cambodia, Afghanistan, and Thailand. These facilities are bases of operation that provide operator training in actual environments and realistic threat conditions. The United States then provided training to The HALO Trust and to MAG (Mines Advisory Group) at The HALO Trustís headquarters in Siem Reap, Cambodia in the Spring of 2006.
Following the training, The HALO Trust employed HSTAMIDS as its primary sensor at Bueng Trakoun West 4 in the K-5 mine belt within Banteay Menchey Province on April 22, 2006. On June 11, 2006, The HALO Trust identified Bueng Trakoun West 4 clear of mines and shifted HSTAMIDS operations to two other minefields. By mid-August, 2006, HSTAMIDS found all of the mines and correctly identified 85% of the harmless clutter. In five different minefields of varying conditions, HSTAMIDS found 569 mines comprised of 9 different mine types, while rejecting over 54,000 pieces of clutter. Individual HSTAMIDS operator clearance rates are approaching 200 square meters per day, which would provide more than a six-fold increase in productivity. Current plans call for expanding HSTAMIDS operations to other areas of operation within Cambodia.
HSTAMIDS performed equally well in Afghanistan where the environmental conditions, mine threat, clutter and mine density in Afghanistan were markedly different than in Cambodia. In Afghanistan, HSTAMIDS rejected over 24,300 pieces of clutter where the clutter density was significantly higher than in Cambodia. After six weeks of operations in the rock strewn fields near Karizi Mir, the HSTAMIDS correctly identified 95% of all clutter which projects to a 645% increase in productivity.
Finally, the U.S. completed HSTAMIDS training to deminers within the Thailand Mine Action Center (TMAC) at the training facilities in Sakaew Province, Thailand. HSTAMIDS operations began in conjunction with mechanical ground preparation technologies at the end of June 2006 in densely vegetated areas.
Thus far, operators employing only seven HSTAMIDS have already cleared more than 60,200 square meters, which includes data collection and verification. In addition, The HALO Trust HSTAMIDS operators have accurately discriminated more than 78,400 pieces of harmless clutter in six different minefields. The results in this initial phase of HSTAMIDS employment as the first production dual sensor detector in demining operations are truly outstanding, but not unexpected. That is because they were achieved by a program with a systematic approach which, before fielding:
Current U.S. Department of Defense fielding plans call for continuing the ongoing operations, working with its cooperating partners to optimize standard operating procedures, and determining the long term, steady state performance of HSTAMIDS in manual demining operations. The U.S. Department of Defense is also exploring opportunities to introduce the HSTAMIDS in other, varied demining operations throughout the world, to include integrating them in U.S. Department of State humanitarian mine action programs.
To learn more about HSTAMIDS, see the L-3 CyTerra fact sheet on the AN/PSS-14 mine detector at http://www.cyterra.com/countermine/an-pss-14.html. Additional information about the U.S. Department of Defenseís and U.S. Department of Stateís humanitarian mine action programs is available, respectively, at http://www.humanitarian-demining.org/demining/default.asp and http://www.state.gov/t/pm/wra/.