Portable mine-clearance device could help to counteract IEDs

A new portable mine-clearance system could help soldiers in Afghanistan more easily tackle improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

The Scaleable Lightweight Infantry Clearance System (SLICE) developed by UK-based Chemring Defence can be carried and launched by individual soldiers to clear a path up to 60m long through an area containing suspected IEDs.

The device follows the model of systems used since World War Two to clear a path through minefields by firing a detonation cord into an area, but is much lighter than most existing systems, such as the British Python, and so isn’t vehicle mounted.

In order to make it more suitable for countering IEDs ­— which can vary dramatically in size and power and are a major threat to forces in Afghanistan — Chemring wanted SLICE to be easily scalable, said business development director David Codling.

‘The user has the intelligence on what IEDs he is finding in the field,’ he told The Engineer. ‘It’s the user that defines what explosive weight they want on the ground. We can’t really determine what they’re seeing in theatre.

‘In the Cold War era you had mines deployed at certain depths and we knew what the threat was. This is completely different because they’re all homemade.’

SLICE consists of a rocket-delivery system and several lengths of detonation cord, each in its own portable pack that can be attached to a soldier’s rucksack, adding around 2.4kg per pack.

Each pack contains 20m of detonation cord and up to three packs can be connected together, with separators inside the packs preventing the cord from becoming tangled and so helping to improve its accuracy and tension when fired.

The system is moving towards its first prototype and the company hopes to make it available from early 2012.