British scientists have developed a powerful firework to clear land mines by burning out the detonator.
Called FireAnt, the cheap device is described as ‘a breakthrough in humanitarian mine clearance’ by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency which developed it.
Demonstrating FireAnt last week at its Chertsey research establishment, Dera said it could cut the cost of clearing anti-tank and anti-personnel mines from £180 per mine to just £12.
When a mine is found, the device is positioned next to it, either using a small metal stand or sandbags. FireAnt then burns out the mine’s detonator with a flame-dispensing firework before the detonator can trigger the mine’s explosive. The flame reaches 1,500 C when it produces the ‘deflagration’ of the mine’s detonator.
Dera said it had tested the device against different types of plastic and metal mines and is negotiating with a British manufacturer to produce it for civilian mine clearance organisations.
Because FireAnt requires minimal training and contains no highly toxic chemicals or explosive material, it can be safely transported by civilians and is not susceptible to climatic extremes. It can be set off with electric or non-electric igniters.