A DERA-derived project to detect mines in strife-torn Kosovo has been swinging into action this week.

The Mineseeker project is a collaboration between scientists and technicians at DERA Malvern and the Lightship Group, one of the world's leading airship companies.

A special form of radar attached to an airship is expected to detect mines and other unexploded munitions, even in unpromising circumstances.

The radar, known as ultra-wide-band radar, used in the Mineseeker project was proposed in 1992 by Dr David Parkes of DERA Malvern and academic collaborators.

Years of hard work by Dr Graeme Crisp and his colleagues took place to turn the concept into a device which can be used in the field.

The airship was flown into Kosovo in September and since then has been testing an optical detection system known as Wescam over various minefields in the Balkan state.

But this week the DERA radar was mated to the airship and trials were due to start yesterday (Thursday) in the Podujeno area.

Dr Crisp said: "The data from these trials will be invaluable and we are looking forward to analysing it."

Bruce Renny of the Lightship Group said: "The first phase, the use of the optical equipment, has produced tremendous results. Now we're entering the second phase, the use of the radar produced at DERA Malvern.

"We anticipate this will last a further three weeks, after which the airship will be brought home to Britain for the winter."

An official launch of the Mineseeker Foundation was to have taken place at DERA Malvern last Thursday, November 2, but had to be postponed due to bad weather; a new date has not been set.