USMC upgrades mine clearing system
The US Marine Corps has a new upgraded version of the MK-154 Mine Clearance System that is safer and more reliable than its previous iteration.
The MK-154 was removed from service four years ago following the loss of a marine during a training exercise.
Prior to the upgrade the system was difficult to employ due to intrusion of air into the hydraulic system, which would render the system inoperable. Operators would have to ‘bleed’ the hydraulic system in order to push the air out before it could be used. The upgraded MK-154 Mod 1 includes a self-bleeding hydraulic system that means it can operate with air in the hydraulic lines.
Another new feature is the addition of a capacitor bank to the power distribution box. When the MK-154 is turned on, a crewman will use the AAV power to charge these capacitors. Once charged, the capacitors are used as a backup power source. This makes the new system safer because it can be fired using the backup power source if the AAV loses power.
The system also features a new test system that lets operators know it is safe to fire. The new test box and test firing system have been added to test the firing circuits of the electric system, which are used to simulate live ordnance when plugged into the electric system. Prior to loading live ordnance, crewman plug in the test system and cycle through the firing sequences as if live ordnance were loaded.
During this test, the test box will verify that the MK-154 firing circuitry is safe by the illumination of green lights. If there is a fault in the firing circuitry, the test box will indicate a fault with a red light.
In all, 47 MK-154 Mod 1 systems are being fielded across the marine corps, primarily to Assault Amphibian Battalions. Fielding is expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2018.
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