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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 December 2006, 15:52 GMT
Army to get bomb disposal robots
Bomb disposal robot Cutlass
The Cutlass has special tyres and an advanced suspension system
The Army has signed a 65m contract to secure a fleet of 80 hi-tech bomb disposal robots, the Ministry of Defence has revealed.

Phased introduction by the end of the decade will see Wheelbarrow machines used since the 1970s being replaced.

Procurement minister Lord Drayson said the robots would provide an "essential capability for those brave men and women who conduct bomb disposal".

The contract for the remote-controlled machines was placed with Remotec UK.

The Coventry based firm is a subsidiary of US defence giant Northrop Grumman.

Civilian safety

The new six-wheeled machines are thought to be faster and better powered than older ones.

The Wheelbarrow machines already used by the Army came into service to deal with devices in Northern Ireland.

Announcing the deal, Lord Drayson said: "The availability of technology to the terrorist has altered the complexity of the explosive devices we face and how they are being used.

"Once in service, Cutlass will provide an essential capability for those brave men and women who conduct bomb disposal activities and who put their lives at risk in order to ensure the safety of civilians and their comrades on operations abroad and at home in the UK."

Phased introduction

The Cutlass machine is equipped with special tyres and an advanced suspension system to give it mobility across a wide range of terrain types.

Its dextrous manipulator arm is controlled by a joystick, which enables Ammunition Technical Officers to make bombs safe from a distance.

And it can be equipped with a wide range of advanced night or day imaging systems, as well as cameras and weapons to detect and disrupt explosive devices.

Under the terms of the contract, the Ministry of Defence will receive 80 of the vehicles.

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