Courtesy Force Protection
Buffaloes are another variant of the MRAP, and strictly speaking it doesn't belong on this list because Navy EOD doesn't operate any Buffaloes. But its colleagues in the Army Corp of Engineers do, and when it comes to actually finding IEDs--performing route clearance for instance, or sweeping a large area for potential explosive threats--the Buffalo often gets the call. The JERRV is designed to get EOD techs to and from dangerous places. The Buffalo's primary task is finding trouble in the first place.
"It's a vehicle that's designed to look for IEDs," Groat says. "The JERRV isn't designed for that. It's very impressive and very durable, and the equipment that they utilize on them--which can vary--is state of the art and getting better all the time."
At its most rudimentary, that equipment includes huge front-mounted rollers that extend in front of the vehicle to trigger any IED pressure plates before the vehicle itself is directly over the charge. Even better, the Buffaloes can employ ground penetrating radar (GPR) capable of finding disparate densities in the ground. Freshly dug earth--a telltale sign that something's been recently buried--has a different density than hard packed terra, and something like a plastic jug full of liquid explosive is even more different still. The Buffalo is also fitted with a massive robotic arm that can dig into the topsoil in search of a suspected threat, sift through roadside rubble, and otherwise manipulate suspicious objects from a safe distance so engineers don't have to dismount.
By leading the way with a Buffalo or two, the engineers can often detect a threat before a convoy is right on top of it. They can then blow the IED in place with an explosive charge of their own or call in EOD techs to render the threat safe.