The Use of Drones in Mine Action

Elizabeth Grew | 01.06.2018

RUAS have recently completed a drone training programme with a group of delegates in Western Kosovo. Working alongside Praedium Consulting Malta (PCM) through its subsidiary The MAT Kosovo (MK) EOD and ERW Training Establishment, we are proud to be involved in the training of people within such a challenging field. The use of drones in mine action is a safety-conscious and vital humanitarian need for something that, for the second year in a row, has recorded a very high number of casualties and fatalities as a direct result of mine usage.

With 'Landmine Monitor' reporting that there are still 61 states with an identified area of antipersonnel mine contamination, the benefit of using drones to identify minefields and hazardous areas is becoming clearer, with successes already documented including at a base in Azerbaijan. The Landmine Monitor, recording the statistics for the preceding year, reported in the latest issue the highest annual total of mine/explosive remnants of war (ERW) since 1999 as well as the highest number ever of child casualties recorded. With an average of almost 24 casualties per day across the previous year, it is clear that there is still a great need for a safe and effective way to remove this remaining risk.

The presence of land mines can often be identified by certain changes in the surrounding soil structure, and the growing use of drones provides a clearer picture than the previously used satellite and Google Earth imagery. By attaching scanning and recording devices to a drone, the area can be recorded at a higher resolution and with a reduced risk to all involved. It also provides the opportunity for a more in-depth search of the area in question with repeat scans, orthophoto maps, drawings and digital models of the land able to be produced with no mine clearance personnel required to physically enter the dangerous area to put these together. This can enable full topographical mapping and plans of action to be put together before mine clearing machines are brought in.

Combined with technologies such as the Airbourne Standoff Minefield Detection System (ASTAMIDS) developed by the United States making use of laser detection systems that can be mounted to a UAV, the requirement for individuals performing on the ground detection is greatly removed. Operators are able to view the data produced by this equipment, attached to their UAV, from a safe distance mitigating the dangers that are inherent to mine fields and lower the number of deminers killed and injured in the undertaking of their work.

RUAS are proud to have been chosen to run training for a new generation of workers in the mine action field. We provided the training and skills required for their Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) licence (or equivalent for non-UK Nationals) with a focus on the challenges faced in the humanitarian mine action field. With UAV use becoming more prominent in this area we are pleased to have ensured that all attendees of this flight school were provided with the knowledge and skills they need to operate a drone, considering the safety of both themselves and the surrounding public.

If you have any questions about the training we can provide, or how you can gain your own remote pilot qualifications then please get in touch with us on contact@ruas.co.uk or 01633 835123.