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

Taiwanese Army Details Plans to Procure M136 Volcano Vehicle-Launched Scatterable Mine System

There has been a lot of discussion recently in the media and online about the procurement of Volcano Anti-Tank systems. The Taiwanese Army Command has clarified its stance again this week. In response to the enemy threat and defensive operational needs, the Army initiated the “Volcanic Anti-Tank systems” procurement plan in 2018. These systems are used to block out beach areas during wartime. Since the system offers advantages such as an “extensive deployment area” , “short operation time”, and “armor protection capabilities”, among other features, it can greatly reduce manpower and operation time. Most of all, these advantages can work to respond to battlefield conditions, and block the rapid landing of amphibious enemy vehicles. Army Command emphasizes that the procurement of mining systems complies with all relevant domestic and international laws and regulations.

There are currently different kinds of line-laying systems adopted from countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and others around the world. As for the “Volcano Anti-Tank systems” purchased by the Army from the United States, this is a brand-new active-duty equipment of the US military, classified as anti-war (A) vehicle mines, and targets enemy armored vehicles rather than non-personnel anti-personnel mines. They are made of metal and feature a timer as a self-destruct function. During combat, it can prevent our troops and the general public from accidental deployment and makes it easier to clear landmines during peacetime. Some recent views and interpretations in the media and online only serve to misguide the general public, and will not, to any extent, benefit nationals in the defense of the homeland.

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)

The M136 Volcano Vehicle-Launched Scatterable Mine System is an automated mine delivery system developed by the United States Army in the 1980s. 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. 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 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. The volcano is designed to be fitted to and removed from vehicles with a minimum of time and labor. The dispensing system is also designed for ease of use, to be 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. Ground Volcano is designed to emplace large minefields in-depth and tactical minefields oriented on enemy forces in support of maneuver operations and friendly Anti-Tank fire.

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