The Marine Corps Assault Breacher Vehicle conducted its first amphibious landings with the new modified mine plow in December, according to a Marine Corps Systems Command release.
The current full-width mine plow fitted to the breacher vehicle does not fit on the Navy Landing Craft Utility boat Marines use to move gear ashore.
But the new prototype has hinges and folds up to fit onto the craft, making it truly amphibious.
Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller has spent much of his tenure pushing the Marines back to the sea after 17 years of counterinsurgency land warfare. The move anticipates littoral ― or near shore ― fights in the future, where Marines will be needed to enter contested areas using ship-to-shore connectors such as the LCU.
Marines’ equipment must fit aboard those ships for landings to be practical.
Though the breacher vehicle may not jump to the top of the list of combat vehicles, clearing minefields can only be done effectively by the equipment it carries, experts said.
“The Assault Breacher Vehicle is the premiere breaching tool in the Marine Corps, and there is no other tool like it,” said Alvin “Tommy” West, ABV platform engineer, in the command release.
Marines detonate line charges to destroy or render useless the mines in their pathway. The plow is then used to push aside any remaining landmines, creating a pathway for the assault force to travel.
“This plow prototype makes the ABV transportable and gives the commander options to accomplish his tasks on the battlefield,” said Timothy Barrons, ABV project officer for Engineer Systems at Marine Corps Systems Command. “The capability makes the force more lethal because it helps keep other combat vehicles intact and saves the lives of Marines.”
In December, Marines with the 1st Marine Division tested the device for long-range raid, which included an amphibious assault.
“Because the plow is foldable and deals directly with explosives, it is going to take some hits, so we need to ensure it is more reliable than the legacy mine plow which was not hinged or foldable,” said West.
Feedback from the Marines will be incorporated into redesign and modifications of the plow before further testing at the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland.