Marines assualt breacher vehicle ready thwart Taliban IED strategy

LA Times:

Weighing 70 tons, traveling up to 45 mph and possessed of a smash-mouth name, the Assault Breacher Vehicle is the Marine Corps' latest answer to a perennial problem of offensive warfare: how to push through the barriers and booby traps of an enemy's outer defenses.

Over the decades, Marines have used various strategies to breach defenses, involving heavy vehicles or, in some cases, sending Marine engineers into minefields to set, by hand, line charges loaded with explosives.

"Breaching is always the hardest part of an assault," said Sgt. Carl Hewett, a breacher operator stationed here.

In the 1990s, the U.S. Army decided it could not afford to continue developing such a complicated, maintenance-heavy vehicle. But the Marine Corps persisted -- funding the development and testing from its own discretionary budget funds.

In December, the 42-foot-long assault breacher was used in combat for the first time, as Marines pushed into a Taliban stronghold called Now Zad in Afghanistan's Helmand province. The brass were pleased with its performance.

Now, as the Marines plan a much larger and more complex assault in the same province, the vehicles, which cost $3.75 million each, are being touted as part of a strategy for routing Taliban fighters.

The top Marine general in Afghanistan, Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, has made it no secret that he plans a massive assault against the Taliban-held community of Marja, where hundreds, maybe thousands, of Taliban took refuge last summer when battalions of Marines swept into Helmand.


Enter the breacher, a cross between a tank and a bulldozer, armed with a .50-caliber machine gun and grenade launcher, powered by a 1,500-horsepower turbine engine, and manned by a driver and an operator of the vehicle's weapons and communications systems.

"Anywhere a tank can go, we can go," Hewett said.

The breacher operator fires line charges loaded with explosives. Once the lengthy lines hit the ground, they can be detonated by the operator from inside the vehicle. The pressure of the explosives is designed to detonate any roadside bombs buried by an enemy.

Two breachers, side by side, are meant to clear a path wide enough for other vehicles and infantry troops. The scoops on the front of the vehicles can help deflect the explosion from buried bombs; a different scoop can fill irrigation canals with dirt to permit passage.

It is a pretty awesome looking machine. Click on the link above to see a picture that accompanies the article. I have posted before about its performance at Now Zad. It is now ready to take on Marjah. I think the Army is going to want some of these machines,


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