December 9, 2009:
The U.S. Marine Corps is buying 33 Assault Breacher Vehicles (ABV). These are M1 tanks modified to help marines get through minefields and areas containing roadside bombs and booby traps. The first of these ABVs has entered service in Afghanistan.
The 55 ton ABV has the 120mm gun replaced with a 12.7mm machine-gun and a line-charge launching system (that ejects a thick cable full of explosives that, when detonated, would set off any land mines). The ABV has a mine clearing plow, and is equipped to be operated remotely, without the crew on board. The vehicle is built at an army depot, by modifying older M1 tanks.
In the 1990s, the U.S. Army attempted to develop a similar vehicle, but the project was cancelled when it went way over budget. Many army engineer officers want to adopt the marine designed ABV, and are keeping a close on ABV experience in Afghanistan.