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US Air Force orders additional laser-fitted mine clearance vehicles

Cougar MRAP with Zeus III laser and robotic arm for UXO removal
MRAP RADBO development was a joint US Army, Air Force project. Photo: US Army

The US Air Force’s Life Cycle Management Center has awarded Parsons Government Services a $39.9 million contract for the delivery of additional mine-clearance vehicles equipped with a 3 kilowatt laser for unexploded explosive ordnance neutralization.

The service is buying a total of 13 complete systems under the contract. The systems consist of the Cougar mine-resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle, a Zeus III laser and a robotic arm.

The system is also referred to as the MRAP RADBO (Recovery of Airbase Denied by Ordnance) vehicle. The laser allows soldiers to identify, disarm and clear unexploded ordnance from an airfield while inside an MRAP Cougar (CAT1A1) vehicle, with little to no collateral damage.

Parsons is expected to complete work under contract by September 2023.

MRAP RADBO allows the military to step away from the “one man, one bomb” approach to unexploded explosive ordnance. Before, when the military wanted to disable a bomb, highly-trained bomb disposal specialists wore body armor, protective suits or used robots to render an area safe.

With lasers, operators can negate the threat of improvised explosive devices, makeshift bombs, mines, and other unexploded explosive ordnance from a safe distance.

RADBO’s laser can detonate bombs up to 300 meters while the integrated interrogator arm and manipulator claw can pull 50 pounds of debris up from cracks and underneath rubble. Infrared cameras, driver vehicle enhanced capabilities and two alternators are installed to provide more than 1,100 amps of power.