The U.S. Navy has developed a new countermine projectile
that could end up saving lives on the battlefield. The projectile will be used
to clear mine fields on beaches and within the breaker zone.
The Navy is using a modified version of the Joint Direct
Attack Munition (JDAM) which houses thousands of "Venom
Penetrator" darts. Each Venom Penetrator is roughly six inches long
and is tipped with hardened tungsten. Inside each dart is liquid diethylene
The JDAM is dropped from an aircraft as it approaches the
minefield. Once the JDAM is roughly 1,000 feet over the target area, the munition fragments and the Venom
Penetrators are hurtled towards the ground at 300 meters per second.
Thanks to its hardened tungsten nose, each Venom dart is
able to travel to a depth of ten to twelve feet under water or up to 2 feet
under sand. The force of impact from the projectile should trigger a landmine
to explode in most cases. If the mine is not triggered on impact, the alkaline-based
DETA solution delivered by the Venom Penetrator neutralizes the landmine by
corroding its explosive filling.
Despite being a promising technology in the countermine
offensive, there are critics of the system. "With the dart method, it may
be difficult to say whether the explosive has been safely burned away or
whether the mine is still dangerous," said Adam Komorowski of the Mines
For more information on the development of the Venom
Penetrator, you can view the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division
2005 Quarterly report (PDF).