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The AVLB: Still a Viable Mobility Asset

By Second Lieutenant Robert Dieter

In July 1995, U.S. Army engineers provided support to the Marine Corps during Operation Freedom Banner in the Republic of Korea. Marines stationed in Okinawa traveled to the eastern seaport of Pohang to exercise their sea-stationed equipment. Army combat engineers from the 2d Engineer Battalion of the 2d Infantry Division provided mobility support along the routes used during the exercise. The mission proved to be an educational experience for both the Marine and the Army engineers.

During the initial reconnaissance of the route to the MlAl training range, the III Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) discovered a military load classification 18 bridge that had neither a bypass nor a ford site. An Army combat engineer team from Charlie Company, 2d Engineer Battalion, conducted a bridge reconnaissance to determine the options available to cross the Marine's MlAl tanks and supporting equipment. The concrete bridge spanned a gap of 41 feet with a 5-foot-2-inch abutment at each end. The bridge had an 8-inch rise in the center to allow water to run off. The team determined that, if cribbed, an armored vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB) could span the gap, enabling the Marine detachment to cross. Figure 1 shows a comparison of the existing bridge to the AVLB.

The AVLB is a a 15-ton aluminum alloy bridge mounted on a 48-ton M60 chassis. It is designed to cross vehicles up to 60 tons over a 60-foot gap. With the development of the 67-ton MlA1 Abrams tank, the AVLB was approved to cross vehicles up to 70 tons in a "caution crossing" over a 50-foot gap. However, the following stipulations exist when crossing vehicles weighing more than 60 tons:

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