Armor: Rolling Along In Safety


January 13, 2011:  The U.S. is moving most of its mine rollers from Iraq to Afghanistan, and saving lives in the process. One of the unrecognized lifesavers in Iraq and Afghanistan is a simple adaptation of an old method of avoiding anti-vehicle mines. That would be the rollers (heavy barrels that are rigged to run in front of a tank or combat engineer vehicle, and set off such mines). The rollers are heavy enough to simulate the weight of a vehicle. The innovation here was to design a roller set (SPARK, for Self-Protection Adaptive Roller Kit), that could be quickly installed and pushed by a truck or, these days, an MRAP (heavily armored trucks). Over 300 SPARK systems were sent to Iraq, where they detonated about a hundred anti-vehicle mines (and "proofed" thousands of kilometers of road, verifying that the routes were mine free.) All this saved hundreds of American lives, which means a lot when you consider that only 4,500 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq, about half of them on the roads (mostly from IEDs). A customized (for local conditions) version of SPARK was designed for Afghanistan, and the Iraqi versions have those mods applied before being sent east.






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