To blast their way through Taliban mine fields during their push into Marja in southern Afghanistan, the Marines turned to the Assault Breacher Vehicle (ABV), an M1A1 Abrams main battle tank with its turret removed and fitted with a dozer blade, a mine plow and two Mk 155 linear demolition charges. The line charge carries 1,750 pounds of C4 that is shot out 100 meters in front of the tank to blast a lane through IED and mine belts.
Now, the Brits are getting in on the act with a lane-clearing mine-charge of their own. Named the Python, it’s similar in function to the ABV, although the rocket-propelled mine charge is carried on a trailer towed behind the Trojan armored engineer tank. The 230 meter long hose, packed with one-and-a-half tons of high explosive, is launched over the tank and onto the mine field, then detonated, clearing a 7 meter wide lane.
“It takes your breath away. You feel the vehicle rock, and in awe of what has just happened. You see the flash, hear the bang and then feel the shock wave,” said Staff Sergeant Mark Eastley, 35, from Devon, from 30 Armoured Engineer Squadron.
The Royal Engineers used the Python breaching charge for the first time in Afghanistan on Saturday during the Marja offensive, according to the Ministry of Defense press release.