09 Nov 04. The Times reported that the American military has been using novel and devastating methods to clear Fallujah’s streets. It has adapted a mine-clearing system, based on a rocket-propelled hose with explosives attached, used for the first time on D-Day on the fortified beaches of Normandy.
The Miclic is normally designed for open spaces because it generates tremendous pressure, setting off mines over a large area. In Fallujah the Miclic, fired from 300 to 400 metres, is used to detonate roadside bombs and car bombs. It is highly effective but also indiscriminate, and not normally considered suitable for an urban environment. The aim is to ensure infantry and armoured vehicles are not impeded by booby-traps, roadside bombs and other hidden devices. High buildings have also been taken over by snipers with telescopic sights to help to spot insurgents.
Other bomb-clearing methods in Fallujah include using the Meerkat, a South African remote-controlled mine-detector controlled from a huge, heavily armoured vehicle called a Buffalo. To ensure there are no hidden devices in houses down either side of a street, the Americans have also been using a small robot called PakBot, from iRobot, a 31 lb device equipped with an imaging system which can be dropped through a window. The PakBot unfolds and starts to hunt through the house. It can climb stairs and even open cupboards, sending back images to its controller who has a joystick to operate it, although some PakBots run autonomously.
Every feature of modern technology has been deployed from electronic bomb-jamming equipment, called Warlock, from EDO, installed on Humvee armoured vehicles, to the Shadow 200 tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), operated by the US Army to provide close-range pictures of enemy positions and movements. The Americans are also using some of their most destructive weapon systems, deployed with such effect in the Iraq War last year: US Marine Cobra gunships firing anti-tank missiles, and AC130 Spectre gunships, converted Hercules transport aircraft armed with cannons. The Multiple Launch Rocket Systems weapon, which fires hundreds of bomblets, is likely to be in reserve. It was used in Baghdad last year to attack side streets where Iraqi tanks were thought to be hiding.