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Tanks fitted with 10-ton tools will combat land mines

NORTHERN KUWAIT—Iraq is a land of land mines, so when the 1st Battalion, 13th Armor, rolls through soon, two of its 44 tanks will wield 10-ton tools designed to destroy mines.

The device is a hardened steel roller that connects to the front of a 70-ton Abrams battle tank. It consists of five discs on one side and an identical five on the other side, connected by massive steel arms, with a chain and smaller roller in between.

The heavy discs detonate pressure-activated mines. The small roller in between drags on the ground, creating a magnetic field that triggers mines with magnetic fuses. The tough steel absorbs the blast.

A tank fitted with the roller can lead a convoy over a road, detonating any mines that the Iraqi military or terrorists might have planted in potholes or laid on the surface.

With the roller, "You don't have to risk a life," said Lt. Col. Frank Sherman, who commands the battalion, which is based at Fort Riley, Kan.

A roller can withstand several separate explosions before it becomes disabled.

The tool, in use since the 1991 Persian Gulf War, also can knock aside obstructions, such as disabled vehicles.

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(c) 2003, Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

PHOTO (from KRT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): USIRAQ-MINES

Iraq

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