- M104 Wolverine
The M104 Wolverine Heavy Assault Bridge is an armored
combat engineeringvehicle designed to provide deployable bridgecapability for units engaged in military operations.
For over a quarter of a century the US Army has made use of armored bridgelaying vehicles based on the M60/M48 Patton series of tanks. In recent years, however, the Army discovered that the aging M60 AVLB (Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge) was too slow to keep up with the
M1 Abramsduring field maneuvers. Additionally, the Abrams was so heavy that it could safely cross the AVLB's bridge only at a very slow speed.
Program development for a new armored bridgelaying vehicle began in
1983, and by 1994General Dynamics Land Systems had been awarded a contract. The first prototype vehicles were being tested by 1996, and the first production models were delivered to the Army by 2003.
Because the Wolverine is essentially an M1A2 SEP tank with bridgelaying gear instead of a turret it shares virtually all of the parent vehicle's speed, mobility, survivability, and automotive components. This commonality was a key design factor in the Wolverine's development. The Wolverine also features an advanced communications package designed to keep it in contact with local field commanders. However, the vehicle itself is completely unarmed.
The Wolverine is operated by two crewmen who sit within the hull. Both crewmen have access to the bridging controls, while the bridge itself is carried in two sections above the hull. Once a bridging site is chosen the vehicle securely anchors itself in place with a spade. The two sections of the bridge are joined together, and then the entire bridge is extended across the obstacle and dropped into place. During launch the crewmen have the ability to make minor corrections if needed. Once operations are complete the Wolverine drives across the bridge and retrieves it from the other side simply by reversing the process. The bridge can be launched in under 5 minutes or retrieved in less than 10, all without the crewmen ever leaving the safety of their vehicle.
Once launched, the 24 meter bridge can support a 70 ton vehicle moving at 16 km/h. [ [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/wolverine.htm Wolverine (Heavy Assault Bridge) ] ] The Wolverine thus allows the heaviest of vehicles to cross craters, ditches, and damaged bridges at combat speed. This mobility is a decisive advantage for armored units.
To date the United States Army has received 44 Wolverines, which have been distributed to a few select engineer units. The Army had originally intended to purchase 465 vehicles, however budget cuts and the recent shift in philosophy toward a lighter fighting force have cast the future of the Wolverine program in doubt. Currently the Army does not plan to purchase any more Wolverines, but it has reserved the right to restart production in the future if necessary.
Armoured vehicle-launched bridge
M60A1 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB)
List of vehicles of the U.S. Armed Forces
* [http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/land/wolvmoon1.jpgM104 Wolverine]
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