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ADF Re: "Canberra Cancelled Robot Unit For Bombs"

Defence Response To Article By Mark Dodd "Canberra Cancelled Robot Unit For Bombs"

Today's Australian reports that a cancelled project in 2004 (Land 133) "could have saved Sergeant Michael Lyddiard from the severe injuries he suffered." At best, this misrepresents the intent of the project and misunderstands the ADF's comprehensive approach to countering the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices (IED).

Land 133 was a capability technology demonstration focussed on the detection of land mines and route clearance against traditional minefields. It was not intended to be a specific countermeasure against IEDs.

Land 133 was replaced by Land 144, which is also focussed on defeating mines and is not intended to deliver specific countermeasures against IEDs. Land 144 achieved 2nd pass approval just before the caretaker period commenced and will mature into an effective counter-mine capability. Other systems are in place and under development to counter IEDs.

Land 133 is therefore irrelevant to the incident involving SGT Lyddiard, given that the IED which wounded him had already been discovered and he was in the process of trying to render it safe.

Australian Defence Force Spokesman, Brigadier Andrew Nikolic said that the ADF takes a comprehensive approach to countering the IED threat.

"We provide individual and collective pre-deployment training, including improved tactics, techniques and procedures to assist with mitigating the threat posed by IEDs Notably, Army's Explosive Hazards Centre conducts an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Mission Rehearsal Exercise for all EOD Teams deploying on operations. This has occurred for all rotations and the training is theatre specific.

"Deliberate planning using surveillance and intelligence is also undertaken to ensure our people understand the threat and can adapt to it as it changes. A range of technical and non-technical systems and measures are available to increase the levels of force protection for our deployed troops. For operational security reasons the specifics of these systems will not be disclosed, because doing so would allow our adversaries to develop effective counter-measures of their own," Brigadier Nikolic said

The ADFs Counter-IED Task Force and Headquarters Joint Operations Command continue to work hard to ensure our troops have the most up-to-date threat information as well as the equipment and counter-measures that are able to neutralise or mitigate the threat. For our EOD operators, this includes a range of mechanical and non-mechanical methods that provide the capacity to approach and neutralise IEDs remotely.

Brigadier Nikolic said that ultimately, a decision on which method to employ is a matter for EOD Operators.

"Their decision is founded on many factors, including the nature of the threat, the terrain and other tactical circumstances. If the EOD operator requires additional guidance or support, this is available from EOD supervisors. "It is notable that the ADF inventory includes EOD remote positioning vehicles (RPV) heavy and light. Both heavy and light robots are in service with the Reconstruction Task Force (RTF) in Afghanistan.

"Importantly, the protection of our troops against IED threats is provided through comprehensive systems and procedures. There is no 'silver bullet' solution." Brigadier Nikolic said.


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