Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va. -- A group of Marines were at the Army Test Center, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md. on 22 September taking part in a Limited Users Evaluation as well as conducting tests and making improvements to the Marine Corps’ latest innovation in mechanized engineering capability, the Assault Breaching Vehicle, before it makes its way to the Fleet Marine Force sometime next year
The ABV is a fully tracked, armored combat engineer vehicle specifically designed for conducting in-stride and deliberate breaching of minefields and complex obstacles. Based on an M1A1 Main Battle Tank chassis, it provides the latest technology in crew protection and vehicle survivability, yet has the speed and mobility to keep pace with the maneuver force. Designed from existing materials and using commercial off the shelf technology, the ABV program relied upon existing funds from a cancelled Army program to move ahead. Only three years in development, the ABV’s integrated systems provide maximum commonality with the current tank fleet. It is the first such vehicle that was designed for and by Marines.
Depending upon the tactical situation and the “troops and fire support available,” existing mine-breaching tactics can be hazardous and labor-intensive. Even if a MK-155 line charge is used, the lanes still must be marked and proofed, and misfires occasionally occur. The ABV on the other hand, breaches, marks and proofs a lane in a single pass. The ABV requires only two Marines to employ or it can be remotely operated from any vehicle in the fleet that has a 24-volt NATO receptacle.
Armed with a 50-caliber machine gun, two Line Charges, and the Full Width Mine Plow the ABV looks quite different than the Main Battle Tank. Attached on front of the ABV is a full-width plow, and different plows can be attached for different missions. While mine-plows by themselves are nothing new to the tanker community, conventional plows can interfere with a tank’s normal operation. Thus having a dedicated vehicle for the engineer mission is a great advantage.
The ABV can breach a 13-foot-wide lane of surface-laid or buried mines and can mark the breached lane automatically or manually in all types of weather both day and night. The illuminated marking darts that the vehicle shoots into the ground are visible to friendly forces at night as well as in the daytime. According to ABV Project Officer, GySgt Timothy Ponikvar, 41, of Akron, OH, “the darts have a light the is automatically oriented towards friendly forces by the vehicle.” He added that, the “vehicle has several cameras which allows the operator to have 360 degree vision.”