Metal Storm has been granted another round of patents and one in particular has important implications for the future of minefields. The company’s weapon technology functions somewhat like an inkjet printer, using computer-controlled electronic ignition and a system of stacked projectiles in multiple barrels. As each barrel can contain a variety of projectiles, it can fire a sensor from each of the barrels to cover an area with sensors. If any sensor is triggered, the barrel to which it belongs fires a subsequent explosive projectile to the exact same point. The system offers many advantages, including the ability to be switched off leaving no explosive ordnance remaining in the area that had been protected. With landmines being one of the most dreadful and enduring legacies of war, it’s an enormous shame that only one side will be using Metal Storm, as it represents a potential solution to the deployment of this insidious device.

We’ve written many stories about Metal Storm’s non-mechanical weapon technology, its awesome firepower, light weight and inability to jam being just a few of its many advantages.

Metal Storm’s inkjet-like technology can do things your average gun can’t do, like fire a million rounds a minute, or fire different projectiles from the same barrel to different distances.

Newly awarded US Patent No. 7637195 protects Metals Storm’s technology which create a virtual minefield. In particular, it protects the system of deploying multi-barrel weapon systems for set defence where each barrel contains a sensor projectile followed by a series of other projectiles. On deployment, the sensors can blanket a “protected area” and if any sensor is triggered, the barrel to which it belongs fires a subsequent projectile to the exact same point to provide an “effect” at that position.

Just to translate the military terminology, an “effect” can range from lethal through less-lethal, depending on the nature of the expected threat. The system has several key benefits in that it can be deployed over large areas in seconds and provide unmanned defence for extended periods.

Unlike conventional minefields it is “self healing”, in that if an incursion triggers a firing, there would still be more projectiles in each barrel to maintain the protection at that point. Uniquely, the protection can be switched off instantly, either over the entire area or for a path through the area, then switched back on again, and most appealing of all, it does not sew a permanent, death-dealing minefield indiscriminate of civilian populations and soldiers: the system can be instantly removed with no mines or other explosive ordnance remaining in the area that had been protected.