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Monday, March 13, 2017

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Weapons of the War in Afghanistan: Military Robots, Part II

Weapons of the War in Afghanistan

In the world of war, weapons and technology are ever changing, each war is characterized by the weapons and tactics used to fight it. As new environments and enemies are encountered, the parties to those wars develop new - more effective tactics, technologies, and weapons to counter and defeat their adversaries. The ingenuity seen in war has existed since (and most certainly before) the first wars of recorded history and continue to this very day. 

Keeping with that theory, let’s take a look at the weapons that have characterized the wars and conflicts that the United States has been a party to over the course of it’s history. During the course of this series, I aim to breakdown the weapons used in each conflict by their classification, and to which party they were employed by. Having served in combat operations in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley, I would like to start our series with the War in Afghanistan. 

For our seventeenth installment let's take a look the most common military robots used in the War in Afghanistan. 

Part II

DOK-ING d.o.o is a large Croatian producer of electric vehicles, specializing in unmanned multi-purpose vehicles established in 1992.

The MV-4 Mine Clearance System is a tracked, remote-controlled machine designed to clear all types of Anti-Personnel (AP) mines and UXO-s, and is survivable to all types of Anti-Tank (AT) mines. Due to its small dimensions and maneuverability, it is suitable for demining of house yards, orchards, forest paths, river banks, and other types of terrain that is inaccessible to larger machines. The various operating tools for mine clearance and soil processing destroy even the smallest Anti-Personnel blast pressure mines and the most dangerous types of bouncing fragmentation mines. The machine is remotely controlled from an armored vehicle or from a safe distance. The engine and vital components of the machine are protected by steel plates.

Designed to withstand mine detonations - Being originally designed for one task only – humanitarian demining, MV-4 system is primarily designed for clearance of Anti-Personnel mines, but there is always a possibility of encountering Anti-Tank mines during its operation. The MV-4 strongest ability to withstand Anti-Tank mine detonations has been proved at the Swedish EOD and Demining Center (SWEDEC) in July 2004.

Safety - Being remotely controlled by an operator from a distance of up to 2000 m, MV-4 system has approved record of safety of demining personnel and third parties - no mine accident in more than 15 years of operation
Productivity - Small dimensions, very good maneuverability, high engine power, and low track-ground pressure, allows the MV-4 system to work year round in almost all conditions. The clearing productivity goes up to 2200 m² per hour.

Protection - Due to the Hardox steel plates, the MV-4 is highly resistant to the fragmentation of landmines, and it's low profile reduces its susceptibility to shrapnel damage.

Mobility & maneuverability - Small dimensions and low track-ground pressure and the working tool that can be raised, lowered, extended and retracted enable the MV-4 system to navigate over difficult terrain such as ditches, obstacles, canals, etc.  It is able to pass over a ditch 19.69 inches wide and 11.81 inches deep, and vertical obstacles of about 11.81 inches in height. Additionaly, it is also able to perform self-recovery from a ditch/channel by using its hydraulic arms (extend/retract positions).

MV-4 can drive and work on highly inclined terrain both transversely and longitudinally:clearing of transverse slopes of 35° up and down, driving on transversal slopes of 45° up and down, clearing longitudinal slopes of 20°driving on longitudinal slopes of 35°.

MV-4 can drive through water to a depth of 17.72 inches without any special actions taken by the operator and can turn 360° on a single point.

Maintenance - Since its low profile reduces the exposure to shrapnel damage, the majority of repairs can be carried out by the operator and mechanic in the field.  Any sections that are damaged by blasts can be easily replaced.

Photo by
The Multi-function Agile Remote-Controlled Robot (MARCbot) is a military robot created by Exponent Inc. for the United States Army Rapid Equipping Force.

The MARCbot was designed as a low cost robotic platform used in Iraq for the inspection of suspicious objects. Until its creation when US Army patrols encountered a potential improvised explosive device, they had to either wait for a specialist explosive ordnance disposal team with its specialist / expensive robots, or investigate the suspicious package themselves. Exponent worked with the Rapid Equipping Force to create a low cost robot for patrol units. Over 1000 MARCbots were eventually created for the US Army for the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan (2001–14). The MARCbot reputedly costs $19,000 - however this is less than other contemporary military robots.

The MARCbot is one of smallest and most commonly used robots in Iraq and looks like a small toy truck with an elevated mast on which a camera is mounted. This camera is used to look, for example, behind doors or through windows without placing human soldiers in danger. It is capable of running for 6 hours on a set of fully charged batteries and was developed with the input of soldiers in Iraq to meet their needs.

Use as an offensive weapon:
The MARCbot was the first ground robot to draw blood in Iraq. One unit jury-rigged a Claymore antipersonnel mine on their units. If they suspected an ambush they would send the robot ahead. If an insurgent was seen the Claymore would be detonated.

Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."

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Shawn in the Korengal Valley, Kunar Province, Afghanistan.

For more info on these and other weapons
Technical specs compiled from:

"The appearance of U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) visual information does not imply or constitute DoD endorsement."


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