Nothing is more important to a maneuver commander than the freedom to operate wherever he desires on the battlefield. To do this, countermine operations must initially focus on the Army's ability to detect minefields and mines, alerting the commander to their presence. The commander may determine to simply avoid, or bypass these areas. These detection and reporting assets include dismounted, vehicle mounted and aerial systems.

If necessary to continue the mission, the commander may decide to breach the minefields, or neutralize the mines. To do this requires a robust, survivable and redundant capability as these actions typically take place under both direct and indirect fire. It is a difficult challenge in an era of increasingly sophisticated mines, but one that must be successful as part of the overall mission. Once the minefields are breached, this information must be rapidly and accurately reported to all follow-on forces in order to speed their progress into the battle.

To improve the speed with which countermine operations can be conducted, the earliest possible detection of mines and minefields is needed. Picatinny's response, therefore, has been to develop standoff mine and minefield detection capabilities. In addition to the operational advantages incurred, these standoffs provide greater operator protection (by distance) in case of a mine detonation.

Examples of Countermine Equipment Being Developed and/or Fielded by Picatinny

The Ground Standoff Mine Detection System (GSTAMIDS) is a spiral development program that will provide the U.S. Army with vehicle-mounted mine detection capabilities in successive blocks. Each block combines the best available technologies for mine detection, confirmation and neutralization in order to support Army countermine operations in the 21st century. In GSTAMIDS Block 0, the primary mission is mine detection and marking in support of route clearance operations during stability and support operations. Block 1 is the next generation vehicle-mounted mine detection and clearance capability that integrates advanced countermine capabilities to detect, mark, clear and neutralize all types of mines. Block 2 is expected to be fielded in FY14 and will employ forward-looking mine detection and avoidance capabilities that will be available for use or attachment on a variety of military vehicles.

FGSTAMIDS The Mine Protected Clearance Vehicle (MPCV) is a blast-resistant vehicle designed to protect soldiers from mine blasts during route clearance operations. It will be the command and control vehicle for the detection vehicle in the GSTAMIDS program.

The Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System (HSTAMIDS) is an innovative, handheld, landmine detector designed to enable soldiers to quickly and accurately detect all types of metallic and non-metallic antitank and antipersonnel mines. The system fuses together two sensor technologies, ground-penetrating radar and metal detection, which enable HSTAMIDS to pick up mines' Handheld Standoff Mine Detection System low metal content and distinguish nails, shrapnel, and other clutter that often lead to false alarms. The result is a greatly improved system that protects the soldier and enhances his ability to detect landmines.

The Airborne Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) integrates multiple sensors for airborne detection of minefields in a two-block program. The Block 0 program provides a standoff capability of detecting surface, or recently buried minefields. The Block 1 program adds the ability to detect weathered-in minefields. Both employ automatic target recognition algorithms to analyze sensor and image data. The ASTAMIDS sensor package is being developed as a mission module for the Army's Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.

The Antipersonnel Obstacle Breaching System (APOBS) is used to conduct deliberate or hasty breaches through enemy antipersonnel minefields and multi-strand wire obstacle. It is light enough to be carried by two soldiers with backpacks and can be deployed within 30 to 120 seconds. Once set in place, the APOBS rocket is fired from a 35-meter standoff position, sending the line of charge with fragmentation grenades over the minefield and/or wire obstacle. The Grenades neutralize, or clear the mines and sever the wire, effectively clearing a footpath up to 45 meters in length for the troops. It is the lighter, more mission-capable successor to the World War II vintage Bangalore torpedo.

The Mongoose Explosive Standoff Minefield Clearer (ESMC) is a rocket-deployed array of countermine shaped charges. These charges are evenly dispersed throughout an Explosive Neutralization System (ENS). The net-like device is comprised of nylon strapping, a detonation cord and the charges themselves. The trailer-mounted system launches the ENS over the top of the host vehicle. Lead and tether lines provide the capability to launch the system from a standoff position beyond the explosive threat of the minefield. When deployed, the ENS expands laterally and longitudinally, and is placed, fully opened, across the minefield. The system is then command detonated from within the host vehicle. Mongoose ESMC defeats, to a 95 percent surety, all mines beneath the deployed ENS and provides a cleared lane for the passage of mounted troops.