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DVD HIGHLIGHTS IED THREAT

25 Jun 10. Tackling the threat from IEDs was top of the agenda at DVD this year.

New Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, formally opened this year’s show at the Millbrook vehicle testing ground in Bedfordshire.

Mr Luff was then given a demonstration of some of the latest counter-IED (C-IED) equipment being used by British troops and met soldiers who had survived IED blasts thanks to the heavily armoured vehicles in which they were travelling.

Speaking at the event he said: “Tackling the IED threat is vital for us to make military progress. C-IED is not just about the bomb disposal expert defusing a bomb, vital and dangerous though that role is. It is about making sure that our soldiers have a range of tools, tactics and techniques available to them.”

Mr Luff was given a guided tour of the five pieces of equipment that make up Talisman, the newest military solution to the IED problem.

The five elements consist of two enormous armoured vehicles, a JCB digger, a bomb disposal robot and a UAV.

The Talisman system is currently being used by Royal Engineers to clear and build safe routes around Helmand province in Afghanistan.

A Mastiff armoured vehicle and its crew act as Talisman’s eyes, with video screens inside the rear compartment of the truck displaying aerial video footage gathered by a Honeywell T-Hawk UAV.

Another armoured vehicle known as Buffalo has a remote-controlled, extendable, pronged arm attached to the front, which is used to comb or ‘rummage’ the ground, detecting signs of IEDs.

The JCB digger is used to fill in ditches or potholes that might prevent soldiers or vehicles from moving forward and the Talon remote-controlled robot gives troops the safer option of remaining out of harm’s way when trying to deal with any devices they find.

Group Captain Paul Ridge, the head of the Military Manouevre Support Team that spent around 18 months developing the Talisman system, said the aim was to enable soldiers to move around the battlefield more easily:

“It’s a range of equipment that has been brought together to make a system which allows early detection and the choice of either avoiding or destroying the IED.

“It can be used on its own or in support of other vehicles. And the whole system can be operated from under armour. It’s just one part of the contribution towards counter-IED.”

Soldiers from 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh who survived two IED blasts in two days while in Afghanistan met the minister and described how the heavily armoured vehicles in which they were travelling probably saved their lives.

Fusilier Danny Hughes, who was travelling in one vehicle when it hit a roadside bomb, said: “The Mastiff is worth its weight in gold. The second time it happened there weren’t any injuries either, it was almost a case of ‘here we go again’, that’s another few hours until we can have a cup of tea.”

The battle to beat the IEDs is the driving force behind an MOD contract for a tranche of 200 new Light Protected Patrol Vehicles.

Two companies, SupaCat and Force Protection Europe, are competing for the contract and displayed prototype models of what they hope will be the next generation of Light Protected Patrol Vehicles (LPPVs).

The vehicles will be used for a variety of patrols and so must be tough enough to cope with cross-country terrain, but also enable the troops inside to engage with the local people they encounter in more urban areas.

General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, Chief of Defence Materiel and the Head of Defence Equipment and Support, said: “As well as its protection against blasts, the LPPV must be able to operate in the harsh conditions of the desert and tight urban environments.”

Mr Luff added: “We will agree a contract for an initial tranche of 200 vehicles under an Urgent Operational Requirement funded from the Treasury Reserve later this year.”

The first batch of vehicles is required for training by the end of 2011.

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