M977 HEMTT with M136 Volcano Vehicle-Launched Scatterable Mine System
M977 HEMTT with M136 Volcano Vehicle-Launched Scatterable Mine System

US State Department Clears Volcano Anti-tank Munition-laying Systems Sales to Taiwan

The U.S. State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States of Volcano (vehicle-launched) anti-tank munition-laying systems and related equipment for an estimated cost of $180 million. The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO) has requested to buy Volcano (vehicle-launched) anti-tank munition-laying systems; M977A4 HEMTT 10-Ton cargo trucks; M87A1 Anti-Tank (AT) munitions; M88 canister training munitions (practice dummy ammunition rounds); M89 training munitions (test ammunition rounds); organic U.S. Army Depot build of Volcano system permanently mounted on M977A4 HEMTT truck; logistics support packages to include spare parts, spare secondary assemblies, tool kits and test equipment.

The M136 Volcano Vehicle-Launched Scatterable Mine System is an automated mine delivery system developed by the United States Army in the 1980s. The primary purpose of Volcano is to provide the employing force with the capability to emplace large minefields rapidly under varied conditions. Volcano minefields are ideal for providing flank protection of advancing forces and for operating in concert with air and ground units on flank guard or screen missions. The system uses prepackaged mine canisters which contain multiple anti-personnel (AP) and/or anti-tank (AT) mines which are dispersed over a wide area when ejected from the canister. The system, commonly referred to as Volcano, is also used by other armies around the world. When fitted to aircraft, the system is referred to as Air Volcano and when fitted to ground vehicles is referred to as Ground Volcano.

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A simulation mine ejected from an M139 Volcano mine dispenser during a demonstration by U.S. Army Engineers to Polish Soldiers at Camp Karliki, Poland June 27,2019.
A simulation M88 practice mine canister ejected from an M139 Volcano mine dispenser during a demonstration by U.S. Army Engineers to Polish Soldiers at Camp Karliki, Poland June 27,2019. (Photo by Sgt. Kris Wright/U.S. Army 358th Public Affairs Detachment)

Ground Volcano is designed to emplace large minefields in depth and tactical minefields oriented on enemy forces in support of manoeuvre operations and friendly AT fire. The system consists of the M139 Dispenser used for dispensing pre-packaged mine canisters, the dispensing control unit (DCU) and mounting hardware, and is designed to be mounted on either ground or aerial vehicles using the same components except for the mounting hardware, which varies between fitment. Volcano is designed to be fitted to and removed from vehicles with a minimum of time and labour. The dispensing system is also designed for ease of use, to operated by personnel with a minimum of training. The ordnance used by the system is based upon a modified GATOR mine. Both live and inert (training) ordnance is available; live canisters are painted green while inert canisters are painted blue.

The M87A1 mine canister is prepackaged with six AT mines and one AP mine, each mine measuring 12 cm (4.72 in) in diameter and 6 cm (2.36 in) in height. The mixture of mines is fixed and cannot be altered in the field. Each AP mine contains approximately 412 grams (14.5 ounces) of explosives, mostly Comp B-4, and each AT mine contains approximately 605 grams (21.3 ounces) of explosives, mostly RDX. AP mines have a electrical fusing circuit triggered by a trip wire; each mine deploys eight trip wires (four on the top and four on the bottom) after ground impact up to 12 metres (39 feet) from the mine. AT mines have a magnetically induced fuse and do not have anti-disturbance devices; however, they are highly sensitive to movement once they are armed and any attempt to remove the mines will likely result in detonation.

A M-136 Volcano weapons system emplaces training mines during the company's training at Wilcox Range on Fort Knox, Ky.
A M977 HEMTT with M136 Volcano mine dispensing system emplaces training mines during the company’s training at Wilcox Range on Fort Knox, Ky.(Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Clinton Wood/U.S. Army Reserve )

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