Each machine has Halo’s standard white livery, denoting neutrality, along with varying levels of machine protection dependent on threat level.
Calvin Ruysen, regional head of the trust for Afghanistan, the Middle East and North Africa, 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, for finding and dislodging any mines from the ground.
The added 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 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 has 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 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. Its original work clearing landmines has expanded to clearing explosives from bomb-damaged buildings and contaminated rubble.