Mineseeker Results Prove Its Ability To Detect Buried Mines in Live Kosovo Test Site - A World First
(Source : UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency ; issued April 12, 2001)


Mineseeker, the world's only airship-based system that has proven success in contributing to the humanitarian de-mining effort, has produced final results from its Kosovo trial of the unique prototype Ultra Wide Band radar.

They show for the first time its ability to detect buried mines from an airborne platform which is an exceptional milestone in the radar's development programme and confirms Mineseeker's future as a significant tool in mapping mined areas in post-conflict sites around the world.

The Mineseeker team used the airship's first deployment to Kosovo late last year to build on earlier UK trials by testing the radar system in a 'live' operational environment. Analysis of the results show that even in its prototype form, the system detects buried mines in real-world environments.

DERA's Ultra Wideband Synthetic Aperture Radar (UWB SAR) uses impulse radar techniques developed over a decade to provide what is believed to be the world's widest bandwidth, highest resolution radar of its type. An exceptionally high resolution is achievable at a much lower mean frequency than conventional narrow band radar, allowing it to penetrate foliage and the ground. The resolution, coupled with exceptionally high digitisation rates allows detection of even small, plastic Anti-Personnel landmines. The airship offers a mobile, stable, low-vibration platform, making it ideal for the UWB radar and overcoming the limitations of other airborne platforms, such as a helicopter.

Mineseeker results prove its ability to detect buried mines in Kosovo.

The radar was tested in Kosovo against surface laid, foliage-obscured and buried mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO). Additionally, and most importantly, the system was tested at the Mine Action Co-ordination Centre's accreditation site ­ a fully ground-truthed live mine site used for training Explosive Detection Dogs. Both sites were of strategic importance during the Kosovo conflict resulting in realistically uneven, cratered environments, littered with the debris of conflict.

The results, which have undergone in-depth analysis, exceeded that expected of the prototype radar system. Their clear demonstration of buried mine detection in realistic environments has given the technical team a high degree of confidence that the required performance increase for a deployable product can be achieved when the system is fully developed.

Mike Kendrick, Chairman of the Mineseeker Foundation, is enthusiastic saying "These results give us the first tangible evidence of the radar's true capability. We have great confidence that Mineseeker will soon offer real value to the de-miner's tool kit. We are now in a good position to find the funding necessary to take the radar through the final steps of development to meet our target of deploying five operational airships to assist in uncovering the world's principal mined areas."

The Mineseeker Foundation, has been set up as a not-for-profit joint venture between DERA (Defence Evaluation & Research Agency) and TLG (The Lightship Group) to raise and administer funds to deliver the Mineseeker operation. It recently launched a campaign to raise £10 million in a bid to develop the technology and deploy five airships to detect and define the world's mine hot-spots having won the support of Nelson Mandela, his wife Graca Machel, HM Queen Noor of Jordan and Sir Richard Branson as patrons.

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