Story and photo by Maj. Dan Marchik
This robot won’t vacuum your home and won’t respond to your voice, but it could save your life. Army Reserve Soldiers from the 469th Engineer Platoon out of Betonville, Arkansas, a subordinate unit of the 416th Theater Engineer Command, were at Fort Leonard Wood learning how to use new equipment.
The M160 Robotic Mine Flail is designed to clear areas of anti-personnel mines to keep ground forces safe. Using line-of-sight remote control, Soldiers remain a safe distance away from any potential detonations and tripwires.
“It takes the Soldiers away from the kill zone, that way they can fight instead of getting blown up,” explained Sgt. Patrick Cochran of the 469th.
The M160 churns up the ground using a drum with chains and small hammers, digging into the ground, detonating any hazards in its path. The vehicle is armored to protect it from blasts that would otherwise injure or kill a Soldier.
“There’s been some tests done with it, and it actually holds up very well in an IED explosion and anti-personnel mines. It’s very durable,” said Staff Sgt. Gary Allen, 469th Engr. Platoon.
“It can be used from a vehicle or on foot…if you’re inside a vehicle, which would be the preferred method, you’re safer because you don’t have the risk of someone taking pot shots at you while you’re trying to operate it,” said Pfc. Forrest Green, 469th Engr. Platoon.
Other attachments are available with the M160, such as a blade or roller, for other earth-moving missions.
“We can quickly clear an area so we can set up faster. We have a blade which can be used to set up hasty fighting positions,” Cochran said.
Although not entirely new to the Army’s arsenal, the M160 is another tool the Army Reserve engineers bring to the fight, and another way to keep Soldiers safe.
(Editor’s note: Marchik is with the 416th Theater Engineering Command Public Affairs Office.)