Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Safer Land Mine

Landmine defuses itself after a few years
  (+8, -2)
(+8, -2)
  [vote for,

Since we still do not have a full international ban on land mines, we could at least make them more safe. My idea is to make them self-defuse after a few years. Currently, antipersonnel mines are tiny, non-metalic pebble-like devices that last for decades. They are very difficult to detect and remove, and the kill and maim civilians and domestic animals for decades after wars have ended. Records of the locations of mine fields are often lost, so my suggestion is to make mines self-disposing after a few years. One way this could be done would be to place a chemical agent in contact with the explosive that would slowly degrade it over the period of 2 years or so. The chemical could be deployed when the device was armed, so they would not degrade while they were in storage. This way, civilians would be spared from the menace of long abandoned mine fields from old wars. Even better, but a little more difficult to implement, would be mines that became easy to detect in addition to being defused, so they could be disposed of safely. A non-conductive chemical could slowly precipitate (after a few years) to form a conductive antenna loop, for example, and unexploded mines could be detected with a device like a shoplifting tag detector. It may even be possible to slowly form a RF corner-cube reflector that would be easy to spot with airborne radar. Other ordnance could also use this technology. Mortar shells do not always explode, for example, but they could be equipped with a faster timed defuser that became activated when they were armed.
Krate, Feb 14 2002

EZ-Landmine http://www.halfbake...om/idea/EZ-LandMine
Halfbaked. One of Riposte's occasional contributions. [mcscotland, Feb 14 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Metal Storm Ltd http://www.metalstorm.com/
Area Denial Weapons System [DrAwkward, May 06 2002, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       I'll be back after I work out the irony of the title.
runforrestrun, Feb 14 2002

       Its an interesting idea, but I'm a cynic. I vote for Safer Humans.
vulgrin, Feb 14 2002

       yeah, yeah, yeah... and everyone should just talk their problems out, and there should be an unenforceable international law, bla bla bla.   

       They make land mines as cheap as they can so that poor little regimes can get the most effect for their goat and cow and kilo of coke.
seal, Feb 14 2002

       Where did I say anything about a law requiring this? This could easily be implemented unilaterally by major ordnance users, such as the USA. It would have a small added cost initially, but it wouldn't create any military disadvantage, since the weapons would be just as powerful for their lifespan. Poor or desperate countrys would use whatever they can, but they already do that. If just the USA (my country) did this unilaterally, it would make a significant difference, and the costs would be offset by the reduced cost of future de-mining operations. So even if you are a cynic, and are just considering the bottom line in dollars and military power, this could be a good plan. The added cost will be offset later, if the nation using the mines intends to win the war it must plan for the eventual clean up of the mines later. Frequently people resort to mining their own country as a defensive measure, and they need to de-mine it later. If the mines are in enemy land, and the war is won, presumably the land will be in friendly hands in the future, and you will need to de-mine it anyway.   

       The most carefully made maps of minefields get obsolete as mines are pushed around by water and weather. Cluster bombs scatter all over the place, and many bomblets do not explode, so they need to be tracked down at some point. The US records of mine drops over South East Asia are garbled on partially unreadable magnetic tape in forgotten notation, and people there are suffering for wars that happend before they were born. The US and other nations have been spending fortunes on humanitarian de-mining operations that only make progress in inches of land a day. So, I think my idea would make many people's lives better, it wouldn't cost anything to implement in the long run (or possibly even save money), it would not reduce the millitary effectiveness of the weapons, and it wouldn't require any law or treaty. And for people on the "just say no to land mines" side, I agree with you that mines are a horrific weapon, but the US has over ten million land mines in its stockpiles, and it has already deployed millions and millions of mines in the past, and all indications are that we will continue to use them, so this is something we could have while waiting for a ban.
Krate, Feb 14 2002

       Anything designed to degrade mines with time could in theory be used by the enemy to destroy them ahead of schedule. This makes the deployment of limited-lifespan mines unlikely. And as for mortars, bombs, etc, anything which might malfunction and make them less likely to explode on impact is bad. Any development like this would just be an excuse to not ban landmines. Banning them or requiring mines to be locatable (e.g. substantially metallic) are better options.
pottedstu, Feb 15 2002

       If there was something that replaces land mines as an area denial weapon, it'd be used. There isn't anything that does what they do as well. They're not ever going to be banned.   

       If the mine contained a small chemical packet or whatever that eventually degrades the explosive, it couldn't be used by the enemy. Mines are usually water-tight to keep them from being damaged by rain.
StarChaser, Feb 16 2002

       How about a deposit? After the mines degrade, local children could dig them up and get a 5¢ refund.
prune, Mar 15 2002

       Not a bad idea, although it'd probably lead to premature explosions as people try to hoard them ahead of their 'kaboom-by' date.
StarChaser, Mar 16 2002

       Metal Storm Ltd has been working on an area denial weapons sytem designed to replace landmines. Basically, it comes in a box with multiple barrels and can fire many different kinds of projectiles, from warning flares to scare away trespassing civilians to armor-piercing rounds. You set it up to guard a certain area, then pack it up again when you leave. There's some cool video demonstrations, including test firings on their site. I suggest you check it out.
DrAwkward, May 06 2002

       i dont see that people plan the end of there wars or the usefulness peroid of thier mine fields but these days im sure they could be better maped on computers and things   

       and why not have a way to deactivate them all with i duno a radio or a chemical spraded from the air (which the enemy dont know about)   

       or some other means of u being able to deactivate them but not ur enemy im not surehow exactly but then they could be tested and then recomisioned which will save the gov from my 5c pieces   

       ways of deactivating them im thinking about radio freqencys(or timmed pulses so u have to find the freqency and a code words or code tones) or some magentic pluses something u can do from agood distamce (prob not magnets)   

       butsomeway of u deactivating itwith out ur enemy having a good chance of finding out how
halitus, Dec 24 2002

       how about a bit of passive electronics that listens for an encrypted radio signal that the mine's owner could broadcast at de-mining time (i.e. this afternoon in Iraq).   

       The cluster bomblets could ignore fake wake up calls but otherwise use a bit of mass produced GPS hardware to broadcast their longitude/latitude, and be receptive to commands like, 'disarm'.   

       The military would still get to keep a weapon that denies access to territory for a given time, but they could clean up cheaply afterwards.   

       The encryption is the key.   

       If mass produced this solid state wizardry would be cheap, (like cell phones and GPS receivers used by hikers).   

       The down side is that the victims are almost always foreigners-who-we-dont-know.
gribble, May 19 2003


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