The point of a minefield is not to destroy the enemy’s troops and equipment, but to slow down their advancement. Just the possibility of landmines makes troops move more carefully. The problem is that mines take quite some time to position, unless something like the Polish Baobab-K machine is used.
The Baobab-K is a mine layer, designed by the Polish defense company Huta Stalowa Wola (HSW). Engineers worked on it for about four years, but recently it’s been announced that it completed initial testing and is ready to go into series production. It is not going to be quick though – some Baobab-Ks will probably be assembled now, but the series production will begin sometime in 2024.
The Baobab-K is a scattered mine laying vehicle, based on a 8×8 JELCZ chassis with high mobility and payload capabilities. It is basically a large truck platform with mine-scattering devices in the back. The Baobab-K is manned by a crew of two.
The Baobab-K has six mine-laying modules, mounted in pairs behind the cab. Each of those modules has twenty barrels and each of those barrels can contain five mines. In total, a fully-loaded Baobab-K has 600 mines. These are special mines, designed for scattering, because regular landmines have a proper side up. However, this concept is far from new. In fact, mine laying vehicles have been in service for decades.
Once at the designated area, the Baobab-K lines up its mine laying modules and fires all the mines in just 22 minutes. Again, only two people are required for this operation. Those 600 mines are scattered in a field measuring 1,800 meters by 90 meters. Here’s how it works in more detail:
The Baobab-K is quite an advanced system, which can carry out its operations automatically. The computer calculates the speed of the vehicle, launcher settings and adjusts the frequency of launching mines. This results in a homogenous minefield. Its parameters are mapped and recorded to ensure tactical knowledge among the different military units and safety.
Poland is a party to the Ottawa Treaty, banning anti-personnel mines, but anti-tank mines can be dangerous to the civilian population as well, which is why smart mapping is important.
Machines like the Baobab-K can completely ruin the attack plans of the enemy, because they are quick and highly mobile. The Baobab-K can mine a significant area in just minutes, which then can take hours to demine or circumnavigate. It can make the enemy guess whether the area formerly confirmed as safe for movement is actually safe. The Baobab-K will be a significant boost to Poland’s defense industry and defensive capabilities.