<strong>Warning: Explicit Language</strong> <br /><em>Video shows a different explosion than the one described here.</em>
“I’ll never forget it. The bomb was on the right side of the Buffalo,” Ryan Tomlinson, a former Marine corporal, told BI.Tomlinson was on Main Supply Route Michigan, near Ramadi. He’d attached as a photographer to a group of engineers on a route clearance mission, looking for IEDs — a mission which the Buffalo, a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) was particularly well suited to do.
Reason being: it came with a 16-foot remote controlled arm. Troops called it, “The Claw.”
“When the bomb went off, it scared the hell out of me. Three [155 mm shells] wired together. Blew the arm clear off the vehicle. Rear end was mangled. Huge pieces of shrapnel sticking out of the glass,” said Tomlinson, who watched this from his MRAP, parked not too far away.
“[Later] all the Marines climbed out. Aside from being shaken up, nothing happened to them.”
“Yeah,” concluded Tomlinson, “It’s kind of like a giant tank.”
The giant Buffalo also appeared as the vehicle aspect of the Decepticon Bonecrusher in the “Transformers” movie series. Because of this, the movie “Transformers” has taken on a cult status with some U.S. Army Engineer Route Clearance units.
The Buffalo is used mostly by combat engineers — troops with special training in clearing mines, bombs, and working with explosives.
Those bombs can be disguised as trash, an animal carcass, or a hunk of concrete. Regardless, Buffalos can stop and use the arm to take a look.
With troops sitting safely inside an air-conditioned cabin, they can pick up a suspicious object — with upward of 16 feet of clearance.
In the past, many units would have to wait around for explosive ordnance disposal teams (EOD) to clear a possible bomb. With the Buffalo, they can make sure it's real before calling the over-worked EOD team.
And it's extremely tough. Upon introductions, U.S. casualties from IEDs as a per cent of combat casualties dropped precipitously.
But it's not the only heavily-armoured truck in the field. U.S. troops now have a variety of vehicles to protect against the roadside bomb threat.
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