By Mrs Jennifer Bacchus (AMC)March 1, 2012
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- A rollout ceremony and ribboncutting at Anniston Army Depot Feb. 16 commemorated the final Assault Breacher Vehicle built here in the first production run for the U.S. Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps, in partnership with ANAD, developed the ABV, which is an M1 Abrams tank chassis outfitted with a mine plow and specially designed turret system created new on the installation.
"It has been 10 years since we came to Anniston with a bright idea," said William Macecevic, program manager with Engineer Systems of the Marine Corps Systems Command as he spoke to the group gathered for the ceremony.
Macecevic praised the depot's workforce, saying the ABV was considered impossible by commercial industry.
"Industry could not accomplish what you did here at Anniston," he said. "You did something unprecedented in the Department of Defense, so, thank you for that."
At the time the ABV was created, it was unheard of for an Army depot and Marine engineers to work together developing a new vehicle system. Yet, as Macecevic walked the crowd through the ABV's developmental timeline, not only did the partnership work, the vehicle was ready for the field in five years.
"It was five years from a PowerPoint presentation to a fully mission-ready vehicle," said Macecevic. "That is unheard of, even by industry standards."
"We actually built six vehicles between 2002 and 2007," said Joey Edwards, the ABV program manager for ANAD. "Those vehicles went through various testing by Marines during that time to come up with the final version."
Full production on the 52 vehicles ordered by the Marines began in November 2007, bringing work to 184 direct employees at Anniston.
"We've been working on M1s for years here at Anniston," said Edwards. "So, our biggest challenge was fabricating the ABV's turret and its components.
Employees working on the ABV have formed and laser-cut metal parts as well as created fabric panels strong enough to serve as ballistic armor protecting the ABV's line charge system. The line charge system is a defensive mechanism designed detonate buried mines and improvised explosive devices.
The ABV is described as a tracked combat engineer vehicle that provides deliberate and in-stride breaching capability of minefields and complex obstacles. It does this by deploying its line charge system and mine plow.
The first ABVs saw combat in December 2009 and Macecevic said it was a tense time for his team. The vehicles came through the fight with rave reviews from the Marines.
"The ABV can take multiple strikes from IEDs and keep going with almost no degradation," said Macecevic. "You've built a quality vehicle that has reliability built into it and it is supported by Anniston Army Depot personnel in the field, including in Afghanistan."