Canada will loan Australia engineering systems to provide soldiers from the latter operating in Afghanistan additional protection against improvised explosive devices (IEDs). This will include two Dorbyl RSD-built Husky protected mobility vehicles fitted with ground penetrating radar (GPR) and a Force Protection Industries Buffalo mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle.
The Buffalo was fitted with an interrogation arm and mast mounted Gyrocam camera and aso incorporates South African know-how. The arrangement was announced yesterday by Australian Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare following a meeting with the Canadian Minister of National Defence Peter MacKay in Canberra.
The vehicles will be used by Australian Army engineers to detect explosive hazards, including mines and IEDs, to create a safe pathway for troops as they patrol Uruzgan province in Afghanistan, the Australian Ministry of Defence says. It adds the Husky’s GPR provides the ability to detect explosive hazard threats from within an armoured vehicle. “It will protect our troops by allowing them to detect IEDs that other detection equipment might not be able to find, especially devices with low or no metal content.”
The Buffalo’s interrogation arm is a safer way of confirming that an IED has been found. “It allows our troops to make this confirmation remotely from a safe distance under armour from inside the Buffalo vehicle. Currently, Sappers have to manually examine any suspected IED.”
The vehicles will be on loan for around 12 months from 2012, the MoD adds. In the meantime, work is underway to assess the possible aquisition of a permanent system. The systems were used by Canada in Kandahar and will become available following the draw down of Canadian Forces, which will be completed by the end of the year.
These additional measures come on top of other initiatives put in place to protect Australian soldiers against IEDs. Measures that have been delivered as part of an Aus$1.6 billion package announced in 2009 include upgrading the Thales Bushmaster MRAP to provide better protection for troops inside; attaching mine rollers to the front of Bushmasters to roll ahead of the vehicle to take the impact of an IED explosion; equipping Bushmasters with heavier calibre weapons; rolling out new lighter combat body armour; purchasing new handheld mine detectors; improving counter IED training; and delivering a Counter Rocket Mortar and Artillery early warning system.