8th MP’s EOD receives new route clearing vehicles

| May 22, 2015 | 0 Comments
The new mine resistant Panther is a hulking, armored, route-clearing vehicle designed to make work safer for tough jobs like that of the 303rd EOD Bn.

The new mine resistant Panther is a hulking, armored, route-clearing vehicle designed to make work safer for tough jobs like that of the 303rd EOD Bn.

Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Taresha Hill
8th Military Police Brigade Public Affairs
8th Theater Sustainment Command

 

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS — When you think of a panther, usually the characteristics of a sleek, agile and quiet stalker of prey come to mind.

However, sleek and agile are not what the new mine resistant vehicles, also called the Panther, inspires.

Weighing in at 60,000 pounds with a height over 11 feet tall and nearly 30 feet long, these Panthers are hulking giants.

In fact, these Panthers are not meant to be sleek; rather, its design serves a greater purpose – to withstand the blast from an improvised explosive device (IED).

The Panthers are route-clearing vehicles with thick armor plating that allows explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) Soldiers to clear roadways under safer conditions. The Army began fielding the vehicles last year and finally, after months of waiting, Soldiers from 303rd EOD Battalion, 8th Military Police Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command, received hands-on training, when over a dozen new Panthers arrived to the battalion, April 30, here.

Like any new piece of equipment, professional training by the equipment’s expert must be given. Training the EOD Soldiers on the Panthers began in the classroom as new equipment training. Instructors from the Army’s Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) educated the Soldiers in a weeklong block of instruction.

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“After the 40 hours of training, they will become the trainers for their company,” said Gaines Stevens, TACOM instructor.

Spending the first few days in the classroom, Staff Sgt. William Hattersley, team leader, 74th EOD Company, paid special attention to the vehicle’s automated capabilities.

“There’s a lot more switches, and turning them on in the wrong order can actually hurt the vehicle in some cases,” Hattersley said. “Training with these vehicles is going to take some adjustment.”

After spending nearly an hour performing preventive maintenance checks and services, Hattersley and his team were ready to learn how to drive the Panthers and take the vehicles out on maneuvers.

As the Panthers rumble down the road, a distinct humming can be heard that grows louder as the vehicles draw closer, making everyone around very aware of its presence.

“Hearing protection is mandatory to operate these vehicles,” Stevens said, about the noise level.

After driving the Panther for a couple hours, Hattersley said that, despite all of its automated capabilities, the Panther is just a beefed-up version of the joint EOD rapid response vehicle.

“Honestly, the biggest hassle will be learning to maneuver around inside it,” Hattersley said.

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Category: News, Sustainability

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