MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE --
Marines with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, were able to familiarize themselves with a new and improved piece of equipment that will better help them stay in the fight Feb. 26, 2014, aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C.
The M9 Armored Combat Earthmover is a highly mobile, armored tracked vehicle that provides combat engineer support to front-line Marine forces. It's capabilities include eliminating enemy obstacles, maintaining and repairing of roads and supply routes and construction of fighting positions.
The preexisting ‘Legacy ACE’ has been torn down, re-mapped, redesigned and turned into the modernized M9 ACE.
“The new M9 ACE has an upgraded hull, improved hydraulic system, bigger engine and an added front camera system so now the operator can see what is going on in front of him,” said Capt. Gregory B. Procaccini, the M9 ACE project officer out of Marine Corps Systems Command in Quantico, Va. “I believe the Marines are going to enjoy the way this equipment operates and how much easier it is going to be to maintain.”
Procaccini went on to say that it took six to eight years to fully develop the upgraded system.
“The M9 ACE is a lot better than the old one,” said Sgt. Robert Kubach, the operations chief for the battalion and Cleveland native. “The upgraded engine really gives this machine more power and it’s able to move dirt more efficiently.”
With more power, the M9 ACE is able to keep up during convoy operations, and does not require being loaded onto a truck, which gives it more of a tactical use. Also, with an added camera the M9 ACE is able to be more exact with its movements.
“On the old system it was pretty much done by feel,” said Kubach. “You would have to know your machine, how it feels, how it’s sitting, the sound of the engine; everything played a factor when you were moving dirt. Now with the camera system, it takes a lot of the ‘guess’ work out of it and gives it more of an exact feel.”
The Legacy M9 ACE machines are currently on a rotational schedule to be turned into the production site in Albany, Ga., so they can make the transformation into modernized M9 ACE.
The first four M9 ACE systems off the production line are currently at Camp Lejeune. Three are for 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion and one is for 8th Engineer Support Battalion.
This is the first new equipment training course for the modernized ACE, and with this past training event being such a success, it won’t be the last.