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Trailblazer

By Lisa Rummler

May 2010 - The U.S. Marine Corpshas a new weapon for the war on terror. Specifically, in Afghanistan, the Marines are using the Assault Breacher Vehicle.

It was deployed for the first time in 2009 in support of the 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigadeand was first used in combat to support operations in two Afghan cities: Now Zad and Marjah.

The breacher allows Marines to both explosively breach and proof a lane through a minefield without requiring additional outside support, according to a press release.

The vehicle looks a great deal like an M1 tank because it is built on the same hull. Unlike the tank, however, the breacher stands as the Department of Defense'ssole dedicated breaching capability.

Further, the breacher combines explosive and mechanical breaching capabilities into one vehicle.

"The operator fires line charges loaded to explosives," according to an article in the Chicago Tribune. "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 to permit passage."

The breacher weighs 72 tons and is 40 ft. long. Two Marines can fit inside the vehicle, which looks like a cross between a tank and a bulldozer, according to the Chicago Tribune article.

"[It is] armed with a .50-caliber machine gun and grenade launcher, powered by a 1,500-hp turbine engine and manned by a driver and an operator of the vehicles' weapons and communications systems," it stated.

On Dec. 3, 2009, the Assault Breacher Vehicle fired its first line charge in Now Zad, Afghanistan, according to a press release from the Marines.

"The performance of the new ABVs was outstanding, to say the least, and I couldn't be happier with the mission and the opportunity," Lance Cpl. Randy J. Davis Jr. said in the release. FFJ

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