News: Engineers give demonstration of mine clearing capabilities
Story by Sgt. Joshua Risner
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. - The hot California sun is out and shining brightly as soldiers of the 479th Engineer Battalion from Syracuse, N.Y., wait for the big moment: the launch of an inert mine clearing line charge.
After a few minutes of preparation, the roar of a rocket makes the crowd flinch, but only for the briefest of moments. As it carries the inert charge a few hundred feet into the distance, they are all smiles and cheers.
The MCLC enables a convoy to traverse a minefield safely by clearing a swath approximately 100 meters long and 14 feet wide, according to Sgt. Brandon Coffey, a combat engineer from Canton, N.Y., assigned to the 366th Engineer Company.
“It clears a helluva path, wide enough for anything we have to get through,” said Coffey. “It will take out anything not anti-tank or ground-hardened.”
When a convoy approaches a minefield, the MCLC makes it possible to go through the obstacle instead of having to plan a route around it. It is especially useful when time is of the importance, Coffey explained.
“When you know you have to get through, it will get you through it,” he said.
The MCLC is fired from a trailer attached to a M119 armored personnel carrier. A rocket carries the line charge a maximum distance of about 300 feet into the minefield, and 1750 pounds of C-4 high explosive clears the path, detonating any mines in the wake of its blast, according to Coffey.
For Pfc. Corey Green, an administrative specialist assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 479th Engineer Battalion, the sight was a special treat.
“It was the first time I’ve ever seen one,” he said with a grin on his face. “It made me jump a little bit. I just would have liked to have caught it on camera.”
While it wowed the soldiers present for the demonstration, the MCLC also showed its utilitarian purpose: to safely clear a path that otherwise would have been impassable.