Landmine clearance charity The HALO Trust is operating a fleet of JCB machines to help clear minefields in Afghanistan and they will soon be joined by their latest addition – an armour plated X Series tracked excavator.
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 – already play key roles and the new heavily armoured JCB 220X is set to arrive shortly.
Each 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.
The HALO Trust’s Head of Region Afghanistan, Middle East and North Africa, Calvin Ruysen said: “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.”
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, it can quickly change between a general digging bucket and a rake attachment, which is 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. Its customers range from the UK government’s Ministry of Defence, the United Nations and NATO as well as various non-governmental organisations, humanitarian groups and international charities such as HALO. The cab features 100mm glazing and three layers of blast protection fabricated from Armox 440T strengthened steel which is specifically designed for vehicle armour to provide penetration and blast resistance.
The HALO Trust is the world’s largest humanitarian mine clearance organisation. It creates safe and secure environments in war torn communities by clearing landmines, managing stockpiles of weapons and destroying unexploded ordnance. It was founded in Afghanistan 1988 and has around 8,000 full-time staff operating in conflict and post-conflict zones in 19 countries and territories. Increasingly HALO is working in urban environments, clearing explosives from bomb-damaged buildings and contaminated rubble. It is keen to tap into the expertise of the UK demolition industry as it develops new techniques.