A fleet of JCB machines is assisting with landmine clearance tasks in Afghanistan.
The HALO Trust charity is using the machines to help clear minefields and will soon take delivery of an armour plated X Series tracked excavator.
JCB said HALO’s programme in Afghanistan is the largest humanitarian landmine clearance project in the world. Four modified JCB models – a 457ZX wheeled loading shovel, JCB Hydradig, JCB Teletruk and 8008 micro excavator – are already playing key roles ahead of the new heavily armoured JCB 220X’s arrival.
Each machine features HALO’s standard white livery denoting the neutral, humanitarian nature of the activity along with varying levels of machine protection dependent on threat level.
Calvin Ruysen, The HALO Trust’s head of region Afghanistan, Middle East and North Africa, explained, “HALO has carried out mechanised mine clearance for many years in Afghanistan, but the original four JCB models allowed us to renew our ageing fleet and brought working efficiencies at a crucial time. This new armoured JCB 220X will further help us to reduce deaths and injuries from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and it is good to be working with British companies, technology and engineers to take this off-the-shelf excavator and up-armour it to suit our specific needs to help save lives.
“If you look at the latest UN report on Afghanistan, with IEDs accounting for the second largest number of conflict-related civilian deaths and injuries, we are keen to expand our mine-clearing capability and as a humanitarian charity we want to address that as quickly as possible, so we look forward to seeing the machine join its stablemates in Afghanistan very soon.”
JCB said the cab on new JCB 220X model has been protected with blast resistant armoured plating and will be deployed to tackle the highest threat level in the region which comes from pressure-plate IEDs. Fitted with a quick hitch, the machine can quickly change between a general digging bucket and a rake attachment, which is said to be very effective at finding and safely dislodging any mines from the ground.
The protection on the JCB220X was provided by Martin Williams (Hull) Ltd, which has a division specialising in the design and build of armoured vehicles. The cab features 100mm glazing and three layers of blast protection fabricated from Armox 440T strengthened steel.