Archive, Features

Friday video: M9 Armored Combat Earthmover

The US Marine Corps recently took delivery of a new generation of M9 Armored Combat Earthmovers (ACE), and this video shows the machines being put through their paces during a familiarisation exercise at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The M9 has been in production since 1986, with deployment in Kuwait and Iraq among other theatres of war, but has been beset with performance and reliability issues. However, the Modernized M9 ACE improves the machine’s Reliability, Availability and Maintainability (RAM).

The M9 ACE is a highly mobile, armoured, tracked vehicle that provides combat engineer support to front-line Marine forces. Its capabilities include eliminating enemy obstacles, maintaining and repairing roads and supply routes and construction of fighting positions. 

The new upgrades include a new hull, an improved hydraulic system, a new joystick operating system and a front-mounted camera.

The operations chief for 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, Sergeant Robert Kubach, spent some time in the driver’s seat of the M9 ACE during the exercise, and says he is pleased with the upgrades.

“It’s a good piece of gear,” Kubach told the Marine Corps Systems Command press office. “The upgraded engine really gives this machine more power and it’s able to move dirt more efficiently.”

More power means the M9 ACE is able to keep up during convoy operations, and does not require being loaded onto a truck, which gives it greater tactical use. Also, with the added camera the M9 ACE is able to be more exact with its movements.

“On the old system it was pretty much done by feel,” Kubach says. “You would have to know your machine, how it feels, how it’s sitting, the sound of the engine; everything played a factor when you were moving dirt. Now, I have the camera in front of me that is looking at how much dirt I have on the blade. And now I have a lot more control over how I move that dirt and how I move the vehicle with the joysticks.”

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