Taiwan boost its military might with the Volcano mine spreaders

Breaking new ground in defense, Taiwan is fortifying its arsenal with the addition of Volcano Vehicle-Launched Scatterable Mine Systems, courtesy of a $146 million US defense deal. These systems are not just a boost to Taiwan’s military might, but a strategic deterrence against potential Chinese military invasions. This development follows the US State Department’s recent approval of an additional $440 million in ammunition and logistics deals for Taiwan. 

Taiwan boost its military might with the Volcano mine spreaders
Photo credit: US Army

This pivotal deal, first previewed by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency in December 2022, is more than just the Volcano mine-laying systems. It also includes M977A4 trucks, M87A1 anti-tank mines, and M88 and M89 training munitions. A comprehensive package aimed at bolstering Taiwan’s defensive capabilities. 

The announcement of this finalized deal is likely to stir the pot in China, especially given the recent strain in Beijing-Washington relations. This strain is attributed to tensions over the Chinese ‘spy balloon’ shootdown incident in February, and President Biden’s recent remarks labeling Xi Jinping a “dictator”. Further fueling the fire, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has publicly voiced his support of Biden’s assessment.

Back in 2018, Taiwan’s military foresaw the need for a robust defense system that could rapidly deploy anti-tank mines over a large area, particularly in the face of a potential amphibious landing assault. Their solution? The US Volcano mine-laying system is a powerhouse of defensive weaponry. 

Taiwan boost its military might with the Volcano mine spreaders
Photo by Staff Sgt. Roger Ashley

The Volcano system packs a punch. Each vehicle holds a staggering 960 anti-tank/anti-personnel mines, capable of establishing a minefield 1,100 meters long. Additionally, it can scatter mines across a width of 120 meters, all in a swift timeframe of four to 12 minutes. 

For those interested in further digging into the Volcano system’s impressive specs and capabilities, a US defense industry website provides some riveting details: 

The Ground Volcano’s design is all about emplacing large, in-depth minefields. It’s strategically oriented against enemy forces, supporting maneuver operations and friendly Anti-Tank [AT] fire. The system comprises the M139 Dispenser, used for dispensing pre-packaged mine canisters, a dispensing control unit [DCU], and mounting hardware. Further, it’s adaptable to either ground or aerial vehicles, using the same components, save for the mounting hardware, which varies per fitment.

China showed a two-seater stealth J-20 in combat camouflage
Photo credit: South China Morning Post

Imagine a system so well-crafted that it can be seamlessly installed and removed from vehicles, requiring only a smidgen of time and effort. The Volcano, a mine-laying system, is exactly that. This genius piece of military technology, designed for simplicity and ease of use, requires minimal training to operate, with the ordnance it uses being a modified GATOR mine. 

China showed a new bomber to protect the coastline
Chinese bomber, Photo credit: TASS

Live and inert [for training] ordnance options are available, and for easy identification, live canisters are painted a vibrant green, while the inert ones sport a cool blue hue. It’s a system that greatly combines simplicity and power. 

Meanwhile, across the sea, China continues to flex its military muscles. Last Friday, a sight that’s becoming increasingly commonplace: 24 Chinese PLA jets and five naval vessels ominously prowling near Taiwan, sending a clear message to Taipei and the US. 

Just last weekend, the Taiwanese Defense Ministry reported a peculiar incident. Eight Chinese warplanes ventured alarmingly close to Taiwan’s contiguous zone, which stretches 24 nautical miles off the island’s coast. This was no ordinary occurrence and has been widely interpreted as a heightened threat, a stark contrast to the somewhat routine breaches of the Air Defense Identification Zone [ADIZ].

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