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Prototype minefield breaching system


The SLUFAE was developed in the late 1970s primarily for combat engineering

Country of origin United States
Entered service -
Crew ~ 4 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight ~ 12 t
Length ~ 6 m
Width 2.68 m
Height ~ 3 m
Caliber 345 mm
Number of tubes 30
Rocket weight 86 kg
Warhead weight 45 kg
Firing range ~ 150 m
Full salvo duration ?
Reloading time ?
Engine General Motors 6V53T diesel
Engine power 275 hp
Maximum road speed 60 km/h
Range 410 km
Gradient 60%
Side slope 30%
Vertical step 0.61 m
Trench 1.7 m
Fording Amphibious


   The SLUFAE (Surface-Launched Unit, Fuel-Air Explosive) system is a self-propelled MLRS designed primarily for standoff demolition of minefields. The project was initiated in the mid-1970s by the US Army and Navy. The primary customer was to be the US Marine Corps.

   It was extensively tested in 1976 through 1978. Though its results were deemed satisfactory, it was never accepted into service, and the CATFAE (CATapult-Launched Fuel-Air Explosive) eventually took its place in development.

   The SLUFAE vehicle is derived from the M752 Lance missile carrier, and is approximately 6 m long, 2.68 m wide, approximately 3 m tall, and weighs 12 tonnes at combat weight.


   The chassis is basically the same as that of the M752, but the gigantic launcher on top makes the SLUFAE impossible to confuse with any other vehicle. This launcher is honeycomb-shaped, bulky, and boxy. It has 30 conspicuously protruding launch tubes, but is otherwise almost featureless. The launcher pivots by means of two mechanical arms, but does not appear to have the ability to traverse. No information is available on how high the SLUFAEís launcher can elevate, but itís design suggests that it cannot depress below 0 degrees.

   The XM130 rocket fired by SLUFAE consists of a barrel-shaped fuel-air explosive warhead, propelled by a 5-inch Zuni rocket motor, and is stabilized by a circular tailfin. These munitions are 345 mm wide, 2.38 m long, and weighed 45 kg. At a set altitude after launch, a proximity fuse airbursts the warhead, dispersing a highly volatile vapor, which immediately combusts on contact with air. The resulting explosion creates a massive, crushing overpressure, which is sufficient to detonate many types of landmines. An XM130 with an inert warhead for training purposes was also developed.

   The XM130 was also highly effective as an artillery weapon, due to the speed, range and trajectory of itís rockets. However, having been conceived for Combat Engineering purposes, itís range is extremely short (only about 150 m, requiring the SLUFAE launch vehicle to venture perilously close to itís target.

   No information is available on the XM130ís accuracy, nor the SLUFAEís reloading time, reloading method, or full salvo duration.

   Propulsion is provided by a General Motors 6V53T diesel V6 engine with 275 hp, coupled to an Allison X-200-4 automatic transmission with 4 forward and 2 reverse gears. The SLUFAE vehicle carries 420 liters of fuel, allowing a maximum range of 410 km, and has a maximum road speed of 60km/h. The X-200-4 is a differential transmission, allowing the SLUFAE to pivot steer, essentially giving it a turning radius of itís half own length. It can swim without preparation (though with little freeboard and poor balance --- swimming the SLUFAE in choppy or moving water is not advisable).

   The unit cost of the SLUFAE is unknown, but it is no longer marketed anyway.

   It is worth noting that the Soviet Union developed and fielded a broadly similar heavy flamethrower weapon system, the TOS-1.




   The SLUFAE vehicle was derived from the same chassis used on the M752 Lance missile carrier, which in turn was a variant of the M548 tracked carrier. There are otherwise no variants of the SLUFAE system itself.



   Article by BLACKTAIL

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