US Army Assault Breacher Vehicle to Launch Drones

The US Army Contracting Command this week released a requirement for the integration of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) with the M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV). According to the published requirement; “The primary objective of the UAS [unmanned aerial system] will be to carry a smart radio to retransmit a Radio Frequency/Signal and to provide additional situational awareness (vision) to troops that would be operating from a concealed and covered location.”

It appears, from the little information released, that the planned UAS may be tasked with jamming enemy IEDs (improvised explosive devices) along with a more traditional role in route reconnaissance. Intriguingly, the ABV itself can be controlled remotely as an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) most recently in a variant known as the Robotic Complex Breach Concept (RCBC).This development may see one of the first instances of a UGV launching UAVs.

Soldiers from A Co, 116 Brigade Engineer Battalion, detonate an M58 Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC) during a live-fire training exercise at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, Calif., June 12, 2019 (Photo by: Cpl. Alisha Grezlik, 115th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

The M1150 is based on the M1A1 main battle tank but modified with a pair of Linear Demolition Charge Systems mounting the MICLIC (Mine Clearing Line Charge) which, according to the Marines, “consists of 1,750 pounds of C­4 explosive in small packets about the size of a 5 ­pound bag of sugar. The packets are strung together in a 350­ foot ­long strand and layered into an oval that fits into a green shipping box. The end of the strand is attached by rope to an 8 ­foot rocket that pulls the strand out behind it when fired. That deploys the line charge across a minefield, and the line charge detonates to clear an 8­ meter ­by 100­ meter lane.”

This cleared lane, and any obstructions or barricades, can be dealt with by the M1150’s Combat Dozer Blade. For longer dwell IED and mine-clearing operations, the Full Width Mine Plow (FWMP) can be mounted instead, something of a current day homage to Hobart’s Funnies of D-Day fame. The M1150, although developed too late for the major urban battles of the Iraq war (Fallujah in 2004 for instance where AAV-P7/A1 were used to deploy the MICLIC), debuted in Helmand Province in 2009, successfully facilitating the clearance of Now Zad and Marjah.