Nov. 28 - The Russian army, stationed on the Russia-Georgia border, has been testing a new mobile cable lift in the Caucasus Mountains. The lift is designed to speed troop and weapons deployment for combat missions in difficult terrain. Rob Muir reports.
Unlike conventional cable-car systems, this one is designed for war. Its individual components can be assembled quickly, allowing both troops and munitions to be deployed in mountainous terrain with unprecedented speed and efficiency. For Russian troops fighting insurgents in the harsh Caucasus Mountains, the lift is seen as a potentially invaluable tool. It's undergoing tests in conjunction with the army's routine combat exercises, under the watchful eye of designer, engineer Alexander Fillipov.. (SOUNDBITE) ALEXANDER FILIPPOV - CABLE LIFT DESIGNER, SAYING: "It is to be used in mountainous conditions to transport personnel on barely passable terrain, where routes of communication are destroyed and there is no other way to move further, over a canyon for example." The mobile lift can be built to a length of 700 metres and can carry several soldiers and their munitions at one time. It's the realisation of an idea first proposed during the 1980s when the Soviet Union was fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan. But when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 90s, so did funding for the project. Ten years later however, ongoing skirmishes along Russia's southern frontier have brought the idea to life and Filippov says he's pleased with the results so far. (SOUNDBITE) ALEXANDER FILIPPOV - CABLE LIFT DESIGNER, SAYING: "There were ten of us who assembled it this time, otherwise up to 40 people are needed to assemble it within the prescribed time, that is two days." And once assembled, Filippov says, the cable lift could make the difference between defeat and victory.