build bridges in less than 10 minutes

The US military aid commitment to Ukraine has resulted in more than $30 billion worth of equipment being shipped in a year. Missiles of all kinds, air defense systems to protect cities and vehicles of the most varied models. In this last category are the armored deployment of bridgesalso called AVLB within the Biden army.

These vehicles, according to a note from the US Department of Defense, are designed to accompany the armored columns and give them the ability to cross rivers, streams, ditches and trenches. The collapsible bridges are attached to a support attached to the chassis of the armored vehicles and extend to save those accidents on the ground. Once the crossing is over, the vehicle can pick up the bridge with the hitch on the other bank.

Together with the AVLB they will also go explosives for demolition and equipment to clear obstacles. “To help the Ukrainians maintain their forces in combat, the package also includes test and diagnostic equipment to support vehicle maintenance and repair, as well as spare parts and other field equipment,” Defense said.

M60 AVLB deploying the bridge

The latest batch announced by the United States includes additional ammunition for high-mobility artillery rocket systems, as well popularly known as HIMARSadditional artillery shells of both 105 and 155-millimeters, and lastly, 25-millimeter ammunition.

portable bridges

The AVLBs respond to the acronym in English of Bridge Launched by Armored Vehicles and began to be developed in the early 50s. At that time, they used the M48 tank as a base until production stopped in 1959. The units —still with an unknown number— that they are going to send to Ukraine correspond to with the next generation of AVLB based on the hull of the M60 Patton tank.

M60 AVLB with bridge folded

MathKnight via Wikimedia

The first batch of units based on Patton were built between 1963 and 1967. Later, from 1987 to 1996 some units of the M60A2 Patton went through the workshops to convert them into AVLB with some important improvements. In addition to the United States, this bridge launcher It is also present in SpainIsrael or Portugal.

This model has participated, among others, in the Cold War, the Vietnam War, Lebanon, Afghanistan and the Gulf War. so the reliability of the platform is more than proven in different scenarios.

Anti-mine weapon launch on the M60 AVLB

Anti-mine weapon launch on the M60 AVLB

Jonnie Riley/Idaho Army National Guard

The most important change from the tank it is based on is the absence of the gun turret. The M60 AVLB lack attack capability by launching projectiles and only the most modern version incorporates an explosive propelled by a rocket to clear mines and demolish some obstacles.

The bridge takes you folded on the chassis and the hydraulics for deployment are located in the former driver’s compartment. That hydraulic arm is extended forward at the same time as the bridge surface is unfolded to save the physical accident.

Deployed bridge of the M60 ALVB

Deployed bridge of the M60 ALVB

US Army

After the entire column of vehicles has passed the bridge, the AVLB will also use it to cross. When it reaches the other side, the hydraulic arm picks up the surface and places it back on the armored chassis.

He bridge has a weight of 14 tons, 19 meters long and supports any type of tank or armored vehicle, even the heaviest Abrams. It is made of an aluminum alloy, it can be deployed in a time ranging from 3 to 10 minutes and retracted in a minimum time of 10 minutes, although depending on the terrain it can be extended to an hour.

armor and power

Being based on a tank, one of the most important properties of the M60 ALVB is the protection it offers its occupants. The most modern version has a 109-millimeter top plate and and protections at all angles to avoid greater evils.

As a countermeasure, you can produce a smoke screen by pouring fuel into the exhaust system and thus generating a thick black smoke that, on the other hand, does not provide protection against infrared, thermal or laser detection.

The armored vehicle has a weight in order of battle —with the bridge included— of 67.9 tons spread over 9.44 meters in length and 3.66 meters in width. The engine is a V12 diesel powered developing 750 horsepower of power that allow a maximum speed of 48 km/h, a cross-country speed of up to 19 km/h and a range of 464 kilometers.

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