When I was a kid I used to watch the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on television. In it, their nemesis, the Shredder, had a subterranean vehicle that drilled through bedrock and dirt to get places. That’s kinda what the Marine Corps’ newest piece of equipment looks like. It’s a modified M1A2 Abrams tank that shoots out line charges to clear IEDs, mines, and other obstacles. Check out the picture after the jump.
So this thing is badass. Let’s talk stats. First off, it weighs probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 70 tons, and utilizes the same 1500 horsepower Honeywell AGT gas turbine engine. This baby eats diesel, regular, and jet fuel. It is equipped with a mine plow, with what looks like pincers that extend out from it. Sweet. The square tiles on the front and sides are Abrams Reactive Armor Tiles. Essentially, the explode outward with impact, negating the effects of any explosive charges, tank rounds, or RPGs. Of course it is equipped with the same depth of depleted uranium and classified armor systems as the M1 Abrams.
On the back of the crew cab we notice quite the improvements. I figure this is where they keep the line charge. Now, this is no APOBS (Anti-Personnel Obstacle Breaching System), Bangalore Torpedo, or line charge you might think of. This is a powerhouse 1,750 pounds of C4 explosive. Watch out.
So on December 3rd it shot its first line charge in the city of Now Zad, Helmand province, Afghanistan. Operated by combat engineers, not tank companies, it cleared a path through the city in no time. Marines of 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion dubbed it: “The Shredder”. Reports on the ground said Taliban radios were heard relaying the message, “Get out! The big boom is coming!”
The moral and psychological impact on the Taliban was significant. They all but left Now Zad and are now believed to be held up in Marjah. Marjah, as relayed in a previous post, is an epicenter for drug smuggling activity as well. The problem now is that the souther end of Helmand province has few citizens, and even fewer Marines. They are spread far and thin, too thin to actively prevent Taliban reinforcements from infiltrating the country through Pakistan’s far western border. The surge will have to deploy troops to this region, even though it will leave less troops for the population centers farther north. The border region is going to become a strategic position, for sure.
If the Taliban were able to reinforce Marjah, we might see some tough battles lasting for some time. I have faith in our Marine Corps, though. They’ll get the job done.
Semper Fi, Marines. I want an ABV for Christmas.