Photo Information

An Anniston Army Depot employee unscrews a wheel on an assault breaching vehicle belonging to 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, in order to upgrade the vehicle aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Sept. 5, 2013. The tracks and wheels needed to be removed to upgrade the body frame of the vehicle with improved suspension.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Scott W. Whiting

2nd CEB’s ABVs receive important upgrades

9 Sep 2013 | Lance Cpl. Scott W. Whiting

Firing more than 1,700 pounds of explosives into a mine field the assault breaching vehicle is one of the best tools the Marine Corps has to clear paths for tanks and other vehicles through dangerous ground.

Second Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division was visited by a team from Anniston Army Depot which traveled to Camp Lejeune to upgrade the unit’s ABVs during August and September as part of a Marine Corps initiative to strengthen this vital piece of equipment.

Built like an M1A1 Abrams tank, with the main gun removed and a large plow installed in the front, these essential vehicles require many hours of maintenance and repair due to the large amount of wear and tear they endure.

The ABVs’ body frames are being upgraded to the specifications of an M1A2 Abrams tank body, improving the suspension and shock absorbers of the vehicle, making it a much smoother ride for the crews inside.

“The original suspension was not intended to handle the front-end equipment that the (ABV) operates with,” said Staff Sgt. Derek Desensi, a tank mechanic with Mobility Assault Company, 2nd CEB. “The A2 suspension is designed to handle the equipment, which means more durability and less component failure while operating.”

A Blue Force Tracker was also installed in the ABVs to give the crews the ability to track friendly forces in the surrounding area, a feature the older ABVs lacked.

“Brackets have been welded into the vehicles to carry a Blue Force Tracker,” Desensi said. “This means we have current operability on the battlefield with communications, as much of our other systems in the Marine Corps already have this.”

These upgrades are sure to increase the efficiency of the vehicles, reducing ABV failure and making them more reliable.

Equipping the vehicles with the necessary upgrades is not an easy process, as Marines with 2nd CEB have been at it for the last five weeks, with another two weeks before they are completed.

“The hardest part is the manual work that goes into the suspension,” Desensi said. “There are some very heavy components involved. The civilians who came down to install them have special equipment which makes the job a little easier, so that helps quite a bit.”

There are 16 total upgrades the ABVs are being equipped with, but the Marines agree the improvement of suspension is the most important. They had a lot of hands-on experience working with the civilians to break down the vehicles and see how the mechanics of it all worked, according to Desensi.

After the Marines wrap up the work on the ABVs, they are planning to use them in the field soon to gauge the effectiveness of the upgrades.