Philippine Army to buy UAVs for mine detection and clearing
September 05, 2023
According to an article by Asia Pacific on September 4, 2023, the Philippine Army has announced its intention to procure new tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with magnetometers designed for the detection of mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs), and metallic objects. This procurement decision is part of the Philippine Army's ongoing efforts to enhance its combat engineering capabilities.
The acquisition of these specialized UAVs is a component of a broader package aimed at acquiring new Combat Engineer Vehicles, with the primary objective of improving the army's mine detection and clearing operations. Sources within the Philippine Defense Resource suggest that these UAVs will be based on a multi-rotor tactical UAV model chosen for its capacity to carry magnetometer equipment, a critical tool for supporting combat engineers in their tasks.
A noteworthy aspect of these UAVs is their compact design, allowing them to be accommodated within the tracked combat engineer vehicles that transport troops into combat zones. These UAVs will be operable by trained UAV pilots from inside these armored vehicles, facilitating efficient coordination between UAV operators and on-ground combat engineers. The decision to include mine-detection UAVs in the procurement process follows the restart and revision of the public tender for Combat Engineer Vehicles, which was prompted by previous bid failures.
In addition to the incorporation of UAVs, the updated specifications have replaced the requirement for mine plows with mine rollers. This change is expected to result in vehicles with reduced combat weight, aligning them with project specifications and budget constraints.
Furthermore, there are indications that the Philippine Army may consider adopting the ASCOD 2-based Pizarro VCZ Castor, originally designed for the Spanish Army's sapper units by GDELS' Spanish subsidiary Santa Barbara Sistemas. This choice is in line with the army's use of the Spanish-built ASCOD 2 platform, which also includes Sabrah light tanks.
The choice of utilizing multi-rotor UAVs equipped with magnetometers for mine detection is influenced by a combination of practical considerations that make this combination suitable for the task. Multi-rotor UAVs are favored for their maneuverability and hovering capabilities, which allow them to navigate through complex terrain, such as areas suspected of containing landmines or improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
Additionally, the capacity of multi-rotor UAVs to operate at low altitudes is advantageous for ground scanning, a common requirement in mine detection. These UAVs can maintain stability even at low altitudes, enabling close inspection of the area. Stability is crucial when carrying sensitive equipment like magnetometers, as they rely on a steady platform to accurately detect magnetic anomalies caused by metallic objects, including mines and unexploded ordnance. Multi-rotor UAVs provide this stability, ensuring the precision of the detection process.
Ease of deployment is another practical aspect of multi-rotor UAVs. They are relatively straightforward to deploy and operate, making them suitable for use by combat engineers and military personnel in the field. These UAVs can be deployed quickly, providing real-time data without requiring extensive training.
Furthermore, multi-rotor UAVs have diverse applications, including reconnaissance, surveillance, and mapping, thanks to their ability to carry various payloads, such as magnetometers and other sensors. This versatility enhances their utility in military operations. Cost-effectiveness is also a factor in favor of multi-rotor UAVs when compared to larger fixed-wing UAVs or specialized mine detection vehicles. The reduced acquisition, maintenance, and operational costs make them an economically viable choice for mine detection tasks.