By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)June 6, 2013
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- An Assault Breacher Vehicle handoff this week at Anniston Army Depot signals the completion of the latest round of production for this unique converted vehicle.
Built on a M1 Abrams chassis, the ABV is a type of composite vehicle - taking the power and strength of the M1 hull and adding a specially designed turret system and plow.
"Anniston fabricates in-house each new ABV turret, which is then mounted on the converted Abrams-ABV chassis," said Joey Edwards, the depot's program manager for the ABV.
The components that make up the Abrams hull are overhauled, a familiar process for the depot's workforce, then the newly manufactured turret is combined with the hull and the ABV is given its mine plow.
In all, approximately 1,500 parts are manufactured specifically for the ABV, which was created through a collaboration between the Army and the Marine Corps, a partnership as unique as the vehicle.
As the depot completes each production run of vehicles, the ABVs must be inspected, ensuring the ABV-specific parts and the Abrams parts are built or overhauled to specifications and that all components work well together. Approximately two vehicles per day can be inspected.
"This process gives the program manager a final inspection record," said Edwards. "It is a verification."
Eric Noyes, the assistant product manager for Assault Bridging with the Office of PM-Bridging, said the inspection process ensures the Soldiers receive a vehicle in the best condition possible.
"We want the Soldiers to feel like they are getting a brand new vehicle and, in essence, they are, even though the vehicle has been overhauled with a manufactured turret," said Noyes.
The vehicle support from PM-Bridging and the depot doesn't end when they are shipped to their new home with the Marines, an Army unit or, as is the case for the recently built vehicles, a National Guard unit.
To ensure the Soldiers and Marines understand how each system works, field service representatives teach proper operation of the ABV.
"For a lot of these units, when they receive the vehicles, these are the first ABVs they have ever seen," said Edwards.
The goal of this fielding process, which can take as much as six weeks, is to ensure mission readiness for both the vehicle and the troops.
At the fielding site, the PM checks the vehicle again to make sure it is fully fueled and all systems are operational. Then, the warfighters are taught vehicle operations.
"This vehicle is a tremendous capability the combat engineers have not had before. It gives them the ability to breach mine fields along with the tanks," said Noyes.