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Air Volcano munitions are transported and handled in the same manner as Class V mines and explosives. The only significant difference in handling is whether air Volcano operations are conducted from the tactical assembly area or the forward operating base.

Echelon-above-corps transportation assets will transfer the air Volcano to corps storage areas (ammunition). Based on forecasts by the division ammunition officer, the corps support area will push air Volcanos to ASPs or ATPs in the division area (tactical assembly area). ASPs and ATPs in or near the tactical assembly area are normally operated by a direct-support ammunition company attached to the corps support group (forward). ATPs in brigade support areas are normally operated by forward support battalions. Mines are moved from the corps support area to ASPs/ATPs by transportation units from the corps support group (rear). Further throughput of mines from ASPs to ATPs is supported by transportation assets from the corps support group (forward). Based on the division ammunition officer's forecast and the availability of transportation, the corps support area will attempt to transfer bulk mines to the ASP/ATP that is best positioned to support requirements. ATPs issue mines to using units while ASPs handle bulk ammunition. ASPs can do emergency issue to using units, but this is usually done only for units using large quantities of bulk ammunition and having their own ammunition transportation support available (division or corps artillery).

Preparation and Coordination

If an air Volcano mission has been approved for a unit, an aviation brigade liaison officer coordinates with the S3 air, the engineer, and the air defense officer to outline air Volcano requirements.

Logistical Requirements

The engineer planner calculates Class IV/V supplies and requests them from the Assistant Chief of Staff, G4 (Logistics)(G4)/S4. The engineer and the assistant division aviation officer coordinate the location (forward-area refuel point, tactical assembly area, forward operating base) of the ATP where the UH-60 will be loaded and fueled. The ALO must provide the amount of air time available and the fuel required, and he must be prepared to discuss emplacement times based on Volcano locations. The air-mission brief will facilitate dissemination of this information.

Concept of the Operation

The scheme of maneuver, fires, and engineer operation must be outlined. The scheme of engineer operations outlines exact grid coordinates, the obstacle intent, and the minefield composition and size. The air Volcano can be emplaced under enemy contact, but additional control measures must be used to protect the aircraft and the crew. If the air Volcano is triggered by enemy action, the DST must be briefed during the air-mission brief. The DST must outline NAIs, including the type of sensors and triggers (long-range surveillance device [LRSD], SOF, UAV), TAIs, decision points, and execution criteria.

Control Points and Markers

The initial point, the approach marker, and minefield markers are designated. Approach and minefield markers must be visible from the air and be distinctly different from one another:

  • The initial point is an easily identifiable terrain feature used for coordinating the entry point of the UH-60 into the sector.
  • The approach marker allows the aircraft to set the altitude, the speed, and the final orientation to the minefield. The approach marker can also be a terrain feature.
  • Minefield markers establish the limits of the desired minefield. Deep area minefields do not require minefield markers.

Terrain Analysis

A combined (aviation, maneuver, fire-support, and engineer planners) terrain analysis should be conducted using Terrabase or a similar product. Terrabase enables planners to analyze the effects of the terrain in a three-dimensional format. AAs, terrain references, TAIs, NAIs, line-of-sight profiles, and minefield locations can be confirmed during this analysis.

Air-Mission Brief

The air-mission brief is the most critical planning and coordination meeting at the execution level, and it must occur no later than H-6 in the planning process. During the air-mission brief--

  • C 2 is established.
  • Updates and changes to the situation are exchanged between the brigade or TF engineer, the fire-support officer, and the air-mission commander.
  • The engineer and the air-mission commander use four control techniques (discussed later in this appendix) to ensure mission success. The primary technique for emplacement and the responsibilities for each control technique are outlined.
  • Radio frequencies; points of contact; code words; identification, friend or foe, modes; and challenge and passwords are exchanged and disseminated.
  • The forward-area refuel point location, the security aircraft, flight routes, and lethal/nonlethal SEAD are identified (if already approved).


The system must be mounted no later than H-48 in the planning process.



The key to proper emplacement is the location of the minefield in relation to existing terrain features. If appropriate, the minefield should tie into an existing terrain feature to prevent easy bypass or fording. Using Terrabase enhances siting and emplacement procedures in deep operations. Reconnaissance must be conducted to verify the location.


Loading. The launcher rack functions as the carrier and launcher platform for 40 mine canisters. The rack has 40 keyholes for mine canisters, a green latch that latches the mine canister to the rack, and a red latch that arms the mine canisters. The rack has two electrical receptacles--one for the connector and one for the launcher rack cable from the DCU. While looking at the canister side of the rack, rows are 1 through 4 from bottom to top and columns are 1 through 10 from left to right.


  • Due to the weight of the Volcano mine system, a large, open area that is clear of obstacles must be selected. The site should have a hard surface if possible. If a hard surface is unavailable, inspect the ground to ensure that it is firm enough to support the weight of the aircraft. Perforated steel planking or two pieces of 1-inch plywood (4 by 4 feet) may be used as a field-expedient surface in soft areas.
  • Concentrations of nonessential personnel or frequently traveled vehicular routes should not be within 1,000 meters of the site. This distance is based on the total weight of explosives and the safe fragmentation distance found in FM 5-250. When using the M88 training canisters, the minimum distance is 30 meters.
  • Two Underwriters Laboratories, Incorporated (UL)-listed 10BC fire extinguishers and a grounding rod (minimum safety equipment) must be available at the arming point. This equipment is provided by personnel who deliver the mines.
  • The number of personnel allowed access to the site should be held to a minimum. All personnel involved in the arming will receive a safety brief that includes--

  • Ammunition handling and inspection procedures.
    Loading procedures.
    Emergency procedures and rendezvous points.
  • Emergency procedures.

  • Fire. In the event of a fire away from the mines, attempt to contain or extinguish the fire by any available means. If the fire is near the mines or in them, clear the area to a minimum distance of 1,000 meters and notify fire-fighting personnel immediately. When training with M88 canisters, clear the area to a minimum distance of 30 meters.
    Accidental discharge. Immediately clear the area to a distance of 640 meters and notify EOD. The mines arm approximately 2 minutes after firing. When training with M88 canisters, terminate arming until the problem can be identified and corrected.
    Failure to fire. Remove the canister from the aircraft and place it in the dud pit. Notify EOD immediately. When training with M88 canisters, remove the canister from the aircraft, separate it from the other canisters, repack it, and return it to the ASP.
  • Site layout (Figure D-6).

Figure D-6. Site layout

    Berming of the site is not required for a tactical arming point.
    The following rules apply when the site is located next to a refuel point:
       >  A minimum of 1,000 meters must exist between arming points and refuel points when the total quantity of explosives is less than 600 kilograms. For quantities greater than 600 kilograms, refer to FM 5-250.

NOTE: Each M87 canister contains 3.4 kilograms of explosives; a full load (160 canisters) contains 550 kilograms of explosives.

       >  The refuel point for armed aircraft must be located at least 375 meters from other aircraft refueling points.
       >  Parked, armed aircraft must be at least 36 meters from other armed aircraft to prevent the detonation of explosives on adjacent aircraft. This distance will not prevent damage to adjacent aircraft; a 130-meter distance is required to prevent damage by fragments and to ensure that the aircraft remains operational.
    A dud pit (bermed when possible) for damaged or misfired ammunition should be established beyond the ammunition points.
    Arming points should be laid out as shown in Figure D-6.

Dearming. After the mission is complete, the aircraft returns to the arming point for dearming. Spent canisters should be discarded at least 30 meters from the aircraft, at the 4- and 8-o'clock positions. Live canisters should be returned to ASPs for future use or repackaging. Canisters that misfire should be placed in the dud pit.

Flight Planning and Preflight.

  • The flight crew analyzes the mission using METT-T factors and determines the flight profile to be used during mine emplacement. It will select (or have designated) one or more of the following control measures to be used during mine emplacement:

  • Visual identification (start and stop markers on the ground).
    Time-lapse (tables to determine the minefield length).
    Number of canisters fired.
    Doppler/GPS (start and stop coordinates).
  • The crew member(s) will ensure that the air Volcano is installed properly, that all installation checks are completed, and that mine canister pallets are loaded as directed by the pilot or the SOP.
  • The flight crew conducts ground checks according to the checklist in TM 1-1520-237-10 to confirm proper operation of the air Volcano prior to takeoff.

Before Arrival at the Target Area.

  • During the equipment check, the crew chief turns on the DCU power-control switch, verifies that no malfunctions were indicated during the initial built-in test, and turns off the DCU power-control switch.
  • After completion of run-up with the aircraft at flight idle, the crew chief turns on the DCU power-control switch.
  • Before arrival at the release point, the pilot will make the following checks (listed on the Volcano card [a sample is shown in Figure D-7]):

Figure D-7. Sample Volcano card

    Verify that the DCU is on.
    Verify that the mine SD time is properly set.
    Announce the ground speed in knots or kph, as required. (The pilot and the crew chief will acknowledge.)
    Announce the number of canisters the crew chief will count down. If deployment is 40 canisters per run (20 per side) and there are two runs, the crew chief will count down from 80 to 60 on the first run and 60 to 40 on the second run. (The crew chief will acknowledge.)
    Announce the altitude for employment. (The pilot will acknowledge.)
    Announce the course for the delivery track. (The pilot will acknowledge.)
    Announce the delivery time based on the setting of the ground speed. (The crew chief will acknowledge.)
  • Before arrival at the initial point, the crew chief will--

  • Ensure that the DCU fire-circuit switch's safety pin and streamer are removed.
    Ensure that the DCU fire-circuit switch is enabled.
    Place the interface control-panel arming switch to the ARM position. He will verify that the jettison advisory light indicates armed and that no fault codes are displayed on the DCU.

At the Target Area.

  • The pilot simultaneously announces "mark," presses the go-around switch, and starts timing the run when he is over the minefield start point.
  • The pilot maintains a ground speed of 5 kph/3 knots and an altitude of 3 meters during the mine-dispensing pass. The pilot is responsible for flying the aircraft within the prescribed limitations.
  • The crew chief announces the mine-canister count, as the canisters are dispensed, by counting down in 10s. He then announces the last three canisters. For example, the pilot announces a canister count of 60, the crew chief calls out "80, 70, 3, 2, 1, mark."
  • The pilot terminates mine dispensing when the grid location is reached.

After Mission Completion.

The crew chief will--

  • Place the interface control-panel arming switch to the SAFE position and verify that the armed advisory capsule is extinguished.
  • Place the DCU fire-circuit switch to the OFF position. Install the safety pin and the streamer.
  • Prepare and submit a SCATMINWARN.


The air Volcano is fast and flexible, but it is difficult to accurately dispense mines within the confines of the minefield marking. The desired obstacle-effect norms for the air Volcano require extensive planning, preparation, coordination, and positive control during emplacement. The critical aspect of the air Volcano is getting the right amount of mines in the specified location and in the desired density.

The detailed coordination focuses on positive control. Positive control of an air Volcano mission requires a redundancy of control techniques to minimize errors in minefield size and location. These control techniques must compensate for poor visibility, wind speed and direction, and navigational errors.

The following control techniques are used by the engineer and the air-mission commander to ensure that Volcano minefields match specific obstacle-effect norms. Units rely on these techniques to accomplish the mission, and they are part of the Volcano air-mission brief:

  • Visual identification. Focuses on the visual identification of minefield emplacement. As part of the preparation for a Volcano minefield, an engineer element erects airfield panel markers to mark start and end points. This provides a visual signal for the engineer and the air-mission commander to start and stop firing Volcano canisters. The pilot depresses the launch switch over the first marker to start firing and depresses it again over the second marker to stop firing. This control technique is good for open terrain with adequate visibility and little canopy coverage.
  • Time lapse. Focuses on when to stop firing Volcano canisters. The UH-60's air speed and the type of minefield being laid determines the amount of time it takes to lay a minefield. The air Volcano has six air speed settings--20, 30, 40, 55, 80, and 120 knots. Table D-4 shows the time required to lay minefields and the full load time.

Table D-4. Air Volcano dispensing times based on air speed

Knots Disrupt and Fix Minefields Turn and Block Minefields 160 Canisters per Load
27 seconds
54 seconds
108 seconds
18 seconds
36 seconds
72 seconds
13 seconds
27 seconds
54 seconds
9 seconds2
18 seconds
39 seconds
6 seconds2
13 seconds2
27 seconds
4 seconds2
9 seconds2
18 seconds
Width of minefield (meters)
No passes per minefield
No canisters per pass
1Recommended air speed
2Recommended only if absolutely necessary
3Blackhawks in pairs can lay turn and block minefields in one pass, firing 80 canisters each.

  • The following example is provided to show how Table D-4 is used:
  • Example: The mission is to install an air Volcano disrupt minefield. The UH-60 is traveling at 40 knots (this is entered on the DCU), and the pilot initiates (depresses the launch switch) at the identification of the Volcano start marker or the grid location on the ground. The pilot depresses the launch switch a second time after 13 seconds have elapsed.
  • Number of canisters fired. Focuses on when to stop firing Volcano canisters. The number of Volcano canisters dispensed also determines when firing is terminated. There is a digital readout on the DCU (for the left and right side) that shows the number of canisters remaining. The pilot stops firing when the required number of canisters have been fired (see Table D-4).
  • Using the disrupt minefield example above, the UH-60 starts the mission with a full load (80 canisters on each side of the aircraft). The pilot initiates (depresses the launch switch) at the identification of the Volcano start marker or the grid location on the ground. The pilot depresses the launch switch a second time after 20 canisters have been expended on each side. The DCU counts down from the total number of canisters. When the DCU reads 60 right/60 left, the pilot depresses the switch to end the firing process. Ideally, the timing of delivery and the number of canisters fired are done simultaneously. As the crew chief counts down the timer, the pilot and the crew chief monitor the number of canisters remaining on the DCU digital readout.
  • Doppler/GPS. Focuses on when to start and stop firing Volcano canisters using the UH-60's Doppler/GPS guidance and navigation set. This set provides the present position or destination in latitude and longitude (degrees and minutes) or grid coordinates. As part of the preparation for the Volcano minefield, exact grid coordinates are needed to determine the approach points and the limits of the minefield. These coordinates are provided to the air-mission commander during the air-mission brief. The pilot enters the grid coordinates into the Doppler/GPS on the primary and the backup aircraft. During execution, the air-mission commander monitors the Doppler/GPS and determines the time to target, when to initiate firing, and when to terminate firing.


Reconnaissance of the proposed site for the air Volcano minefield will be conducted before mines are emplaced. This could include--

  • LRSD.
  • Apache gun tapes.
  • UAV overflights.
  • Imagery.

Key terrain or landmarks are used to identify start and end points for aviation assets. It is unlikely that military marking will be employed based on the proximity to enemy forces and the probability of early detection if man-made markers are present. Fencing the minefield is not required until the area has been secured by friendly forces.


Within friendly territory, air Volcano minefields should be fenced and marked with NATO identification signs to protect friendly forces.

Fencing is installed before the air Volcano minefield is delivered, and it is located 100 meters from the centerline of the minefield and 100 meters from the start and end points (Figure D-8).

Figure D-8. Fencing for an air Volcano minefield

Start and end points should be marked with man-made devices such as VS-17 panels. During limited visibility, start and end points should be marked with infrared or heat-producing sources. Key terrain features and landmarks should still be used to identify start and end points.

Fencing the minefield is not viable when the minefield duration is short or civilians on the battlefield are an issue. In this case, CA, public affairs, and PSYOP personnel should be involved in letting friendly personnel know the minefield location. This could include--

  • Leaflet drops.
  • CA teams disseminating information.
  • Host-nation support.
  • PSYOP.



The emplacing unit is responsible for issuing the SCATMINWARN (Figure 8-7) to adjacent units and higher headquarters. The brigade engineers and the assistant division engineer assist in this process. They disseminate the warning based on whether or not it is a brigade (brigade engineer) or division (aviation brigade engineer) mission. To ensure that all units are informed, the assistant division engineer forwards the SCATMINWARN to the G3 for dissemination through operational channels.


The aircraft emplacing the minefield reports initiation and completion times to the engineer of the emplacing unit. The engineer prepares the scatterable minefield report and record (Figure 8-8) and forwards it through his unit to the assistant division engineer. The assistant division engineer forwards the report to the G3 who provides the information to higher and subordinate units through operational channels.

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