Radar and metal detection join forces in new reliable mine-detection system

By John McHale

WALTHAM, Mass. — Experts at CyTerra Corp. in Waltham, Mass., developed a handheld land mine detector for the U.S. Army that combines ground-penetrating radar with metal detection technology, resulting in a low false alarm rate.

Click here to enlarge image

This capability enables soldiers to quickly and accurately detect all types of anti-tank and anti-personnel land mines, company officials say. CyTerra's detector is the result of a U.S. Army-sponsored 15-year research and development effort to find a means for reliably detecting non-metallic, plastic-cased mines.

The company recently received a three-year, $12.3 million contract for the engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) phase of its handheld land mine detector.

Officials of the U.S. Army's Project Manager for Mines, Countermine, and Demolitions (PM-MCD), together with those at the Communications-Electronics Command Acquisition Center at Fort Belvoir, Va., awarded the contract as part of the Handheld Standoff Mine Detection (HSTAMIDS) program.

"CyTerra's system represents a true leap ahead in mine detection technology," says Larry Nee, Chief of the Countermine Division (PM-MCD). "Our goal is to significantly improve the speed and safety of mine clearance operations for U.S soldiers. This contract takes us one step closer to making that happen."

"Existing mine detectors are based on a single technology — metal detection," says David H. Fine, president of CyTerra. "Our system fuses together two sensor technologies — ground-penetrating radar and metal detection. By combining these two complementary methods of detection, we can simultaneously boost the sensitivity of each technology and dramatically reduce the high number of false alarms that are associated with today's land mine detectors."

The biggest design challenge CyTerra engineers faced was making the radar antenna as non-metallic as possible so it would not interfere with the metal detector, Fine says. The antenna is a foam-like composite with just enough metal for the current to flow, he explains.

There were not any tradeoffs in performance with traditional mine detectors because "we took the best from both worlds — radar and metal detection," Fine says. Today's mine detectors are so precise they pick up metal as small as a pinhead, he adds. However, there is so much metal in the ground that false alarm rates can be high, Fine explains.

The radar system acts as a filter to the metal detector by eliminating all the clutter the detector might pick up, he says. For example if the device encounters a mine a foot in diameter, the radar in the system will beep one end of the mine, then beep again at the other end, Fine explains. The system emits a system of audio tones to alert soldiers to the presence of a buried land mine.

In other words the radar "will see any order in the chaos," Fine says.

Based on data collected from testing the detector in a controlled environment for the Army, the CyTerra device's false alarm rate is about five times better than that of current metal detectors, and will be even better once it is deployed, he says. Because of the relatively low false alarm rate soldiers will be able to detect mines not only more quickly, but also more safely than they can today, Fine adds.

Tests at the Army Aberdeen Proving Ground in Aberdeen, Md., demonstrated a probability of detection near 100 percent overall for CyTerra's detector, company officials say.

MineLab in Australia developed the metal detector for CyTerra, while the radar was a CyTerra custom design, Fine says. The CyTerra detector also uses standard-issue Army batteries that last from eight to 12 hours between charges, Fine says.

The entire system is mostly a custom design; the only commercial-off-the-shelf product is the device's Palomar 2 350 MHz PowerPC single-board computer from SBS Technologies in Albuquerque, N.M., he says. The hardware for the detector was relatively low-cost, with software algorithm work making up the bulk of the development cost, Fine adds.

CyTerra engineers are trying to keep the detector's weight to seven pounds so soldiers can transport and operate the device easily, CyTerra officials say.

The device also had to be rugged enough to work in all environments where mines may be present, Fine says. The Army specified that it be able to fly at 40,000 feet and survive a drop into the field with paratroopers, he adds.

The EMD contract represents the last stage in the Army's development cycle. While several different detection technologies in various stages of development, CyTerra's system is the only dual-sensor, handheld technology being readied for full-scale production and subsequent fielding, CyTerra officials say.

Under the terms of the contract, CyTerra will finalize the detector's design and improve performance during the EMD phase CyTerra officials say. The company will then deliver 22 units to the Army for developmental and operational field testing, company officials say.

For more information on CyTerra contact the company by phone at 781-622-1368, by fax at 781-622-1370, by mail at 85 First Avenue, Waltham, Mass. 02451-1105, or on the World Wide Web at http://www.cyterracorp.com.

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

XCalibur5090 | Dual Virtex-7 Based Digital Signal Processing 6U LRM FPGA with Quad 2500 MSPS DAC and 3200 MSPS ADC

The XCalibur5090 is a high-performance, reconfigurable, conduction-cooled 6U LRM module based on ...

XPedite7574 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7574 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XCalibur1645 | Freescale Eight-Core P4080 Processor-Based Conduction-Cooled 6U VPX Module

The XCalibur1645 is a high-performance, 6U VPX, single board computer supporting Freescale QorIQ ...

ScanFaker DRSii - Networked Radar Simulator

High resolution radar stimulator supporting analog and LAN output. Resolution down to 1m is possi...

Ultra-Flex Omni Antennas

The Southwest Antennas Ultra-Flex is a line of S-Band & C-Band omni antennas with a unique enviro...

S & C Dual-Band Omni Antennas

SWA Dual-Band Omni Antennas are designed to cover the S & C bands, and are available with multipl...

4G LTE Cellular Omni Concealment Antenna

The 4G LTE Cellular Omni Concealment Antenna from Southwest Antennas measures only 4.70" x 1.70" ...

Body Worn Antennas

Body Worn Antennas from SWA are ideal for covert surveillance applications where the radio and an...

PowerDNR RACKtangle®

3U Gigabit Ethernet Data Acquisition and control rack United Electronic Industries allows the ins...


Four-Slot, Military Style I/O Chassis with Military/Rugged 38999 connectivity, 100% COTS solution...

Related Companies


Is a mechanical engineering consulting company headquartered in Los Angeles, CA with operations in Billerica, MA, pro...

Dspnor AS

Offers radar signal processing and distribution. The products interface to virtually any radar system in use today. T...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...


PALMARII Dynamics is a Swedish company incorporated in 2012 as a competence centre for specialist naval architecture ...


Pelorus Naval Systems is a specialist naval defense engineering and support services company with headquarters in Ran...

Southwest Antennas

Southwest Antennas designs and manufactures high-performance RF & Microwave antennas and accessories designed for tod...

CORWIL Technology Corp

CORWIL Technology, the premier US based, IC assembly and test services subcontractor, offering full back-end assembly...


IndustryARC primarily focuses on Cutting Edge Technologies and Newer Applications of the Market. Our Custom Research ...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

RPMC Lasers Inc

Offers 1500 DPSS lasers, lamp lasers, fiber lasers and diode lasers. Provides, ultrafast, picosecond, nanosecond, cw ...


Harsh Environment Protection for Advanced Electronics and Components

This webinar will offer an opportunity to learn more about ultra-thin Parylene conformal coatings – how they are applied, applications they protect today, and the properties and benefits they offer, includin...

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

Press Releases


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has received a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply its small form factor ...

Innovative Integration Announces the FMC-Servo

Camarillo, CA June 19, 2015, Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the FMC-S...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has further enhanced its innovative VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) w...

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles