The easiest way to clear mines is to trigger them. Heavy armored vehicles often use mine ploughs to clear the way. Lighter wheeled vehicles tend to use mine rollers instead, pushing the weighted devices in front of their vehicle so that any pressure mines detonate under the roller instead.
In January 2006, a DefendAmerica.MIL article noted that the US Army’s 2nd Battalion, 503rd Parachute Infantry Regiment mechanics serving in Afghanistan have created a mine roller system from scavenged parts, and verified its effectiveness. As an additional safety measure, a cable to the Humvee frame becomes taut if their roller triggers an explosion, in order to keep the roller from flipping back and crushing the drivers inside the vehicle.
Subsequent orders for similar equipment by the US Marine Corps haven’t been as cheap…
Ever since anti-tank missiles proved their lethality on the battlefield, designers and officers have wanted to create tank rounds that could act like guided missiles. The pursuit hasn’t always gone well. The force created by a tank gun’s firing isn’t very hospitable to delicate electronics, which has resulted in some prominent failures. The M551 Sheridan light tank and its MGM-51 Shillelagh missile, for instance, became a negative example to the industry as a whole during its brief career in the 1960/70s.
Electronics have moved on since then, however, and advances in electronics’ size and composition are beginning to make the concept thinkable once more. Israel’s laser-homing Lahat missile equips some Merkava tanks, will reportedly equip India’s new Arjun tanks, and has been qualified for use with the Leopard 2 tank family. It can be fired from missile launchers, and also offers 105mm or 120mm tank guns a range boost to 8km, the ability to kill heavily protected tanks from the top, and effectiveness against slow flying aerial targets like helicopters and UAVs. Russia’s shorter-range 9M119M Refleks (NATO designation AT-11 Sniper) round is also available on the market, to equip late-model Russian and Chinese tanks.
The USA’s 160+ billion Future Combat Systems program aims to revive the light tank with its Mounted Combat System variant of its MGS tracked vehicle family. It won’t have the M1 Abrams’ armor protection, and its light 120mm gun won’t have that tank’s firepower punch, either – unless a guided round can even the odds, and give it beyond line-of-sight capabilities. Enter the XM1111 Mid-Range Munition.