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Switzerland counters Russia's Anti-Tank Mines in Ukraine with DIGGER D-250

Switzerland is stepping up its humanitarian aid efforts in Ukraine by sending, a remote-controlled demining machine. On August 29, 2023, the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) announced that it would be supplying the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) with this specialized equipment. The move aims to facilitate the safe and efficient clearance of areas contaminated with mines, cluster munitions, and other explosive remnants of war.
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DIGGER D-250 is the fourth generation of remote-controlled humanitarian demining machines developed by the Swiss DIGGER Foundation. (Picture source: Digger Foundation )

The demining machine was handed over to the DDPS by the Swiss DIGGER Foundation on August 29 and is prepared for immediate shipment to Ukraine through the Van for Life Foundation. The DIGGER Foundation is a Swiss non-profit organization dedicated to developing technologies and methods for humanitarian demining.

The total aid package, valued at CHF 1.2 million (approximately $1.3 million USD), encompasses not just the demining machine but also a caterpillar vehicle capable of destroying or detonating anti-personnel mines. Additionally, the package includes a truck trailer and a three-year supply of spare parts.

To ensure the effective use of the equipment, Ukrainian authorities will receive on-site training from experts affiliated with the DIGGER Foundation. This comes as Swiss company Global Clearance Solutions (GCS) also announced plans to deliver around 20 demining machines to Ukraine within the year.

The DIGGER D-250 is the fourth generation of remote-controlled humanitarian demining machines developed by the Swiss DIGGER Foundation. Built on over two decades of experience across 16 countries and four continents, this Swiss-made machine is designed for extreme versatility and reliability. It can be operated remotely from a distance of up to 500 meters, ensuring the safety of the operator. Tested successfully against anti-tank mines containing up to 8 kg of TNT equivalent by the Swedish Army, the D-250 is equipped with a unique oscillating track system that provides better weight distribution, enhancing its all-terrain capabilities.

Powered by a 250-horsepower John-Deere diesel engine, the machine is also equipped with a specially designed cooling system that allows it to operate at full power in the planet's hottest conditions. Its three-stage air filtration system ensures that it can function effectively even in dusty environments. The D-250 is not just limited to demining; it meets European safety and emission standards, making it suitable for other construction projects as well. It offers a wide range of tool attachments, from demining flails to agricultural implements, making it a versatile and cost-effective solution for both humanitarian and industrial applications.

Weighing 9,790 kg without tools and 11,910 kg with a demining flail, the machine has dimensions that make it transportable in a standard 20-foot maritime container. Its width varies from 1,690 mm without tools to 2,320 mm with a demining flail, and its length with a demining flail is 5,755 mm, with a height of 2,041 mm. Overall, the DIGGER D-250 stands as a testament to Swiss engineering, offering a robust and efficient solution for demining and beyond.

The urgency of mine clearance in Ukraine has its roots in the Russian invasion of February 2022. A Globesec report from April 26, 2023, indicates that nearly 30% of Ukraine's territory, translating to about 174,000km², is plagued with mines and unexploded ordnance. The demining process is intricate and financially draining, with the tactics of Russian forces adding to the complexity. By June 2023, efforts led to the clearance of approximately 540,000 unexploded items. However, the World Bank estimates the total cost of ensuring Ukraine's safety to be a staggering $37 billion. This contamination presents significant challenges, both in terms of resource allocation and economic stability, underlining the importance of innovations.

Ukrainian Minister of Economy Yulia Svyrydenko announced that Ukraine is set to receive $244 million for humanitarian demining efforts. The funds will be provided by international donors, including the United States, the European Union, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Norway, Sweden, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Denmark, Canada, Austria, Switzerland, South Korea, and the Howard Buffett Foundation.


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