By Mrs. Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)April 4, 2019
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- The U.S. military relies on its engineering forces to help them get into some of the most austere environments on the planet. In turn, the engineering units rely on Anniston Army Depot for bridges and earth moving equipment.
Here, M1 and M60 tanks are disassembled, then taken to welding, where they are reconfigured into Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges or a Joint Assault Bridges.
There are approximately 100 different welds performed on a M1 hull to convert it to a JAB, 95 of which are specific to the bridge system.
"Once they do that, it changes the vehicle from one end to the other," said Lavon Stephens, chief of the Vehicle Gun Division in ANAD's Directorate of Production, adding that even the National Stock Number on the vehicle changes.
After the depot converts the M1 to the JAB-specific configuration, the vehicle is inspected and shipped to DRS Technologies, Inc., where it is paired with the bridge launcher.
The same bridge components are used on both the JAB and the AVLB. The spans are military load classification 95, which means combat vehicles weighing 79 tons can easily cross them.
Using the same bridging is also easing the transition from the AVLB to the JAB, which is slated to replace the older, slower system.
The JAB is expected to become the Army and Marine Corps heavy assault bridging system, once testing and evaluations on the system are complete.
For the AVLB, ANAD not only performs the change from the M60 hull to the AVLB configuration, they have repaired the bridge elements and launch components since the mid-90s, according to Bill Forge, assistant product manager for the Product Management Office, Bridging, PM Force Projection, PEO CS&CSS.
"We build the vehicle all the way up from the suspension to the final product," said Earl Wood, a depot heavy mobile equipment supervisor.
After welding, repairs and conversion, each AVLB is function tested five times to ensure the bridge system will deploy correctly for the war fighters.