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SLU-FAE (Surface-Launched Unit, Fuel-Air Explosive)

Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) / Mine-Clearance Demolition Vehicle

Armor / Land Systems

1 / 1
Image from the United States Army.

The SLU-FAE mine-and-obstacle clearing vehicle failed to enter serial production.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 9/25/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The quick mechanized advances of World War 2 (1939-1945) taught the future war planners of the Cold War (1947-1991) the importance of expedited mine and obstacle clearance. These two battlefield hindrances could delay army forces for hours to days depending on their nature. While the Allies ultimately claimed the victory in the world-wide conflict, this experience was not lost when planning for the future wars in Europe - against a new enemy in the Soviet Union.

In the late 1970s, the United States military (Army and Navy services) funded development of a dedicated mine-and-obstacle clearance vehicle built atop the existing framework of the M548 tracked vehicle (also making up the M752 "Lance" battlefield missile carrier). This allowed the unit to be tracked and capable of keeping up with the main mechanized fighting force (presumably United States Marines undertaking amphibious assault operations). The launcher component, a collection of 30 x 345mm rocket launch tubes, was seated atop a trainable mounting over the rear of the vehicle and sported a limited retracting feature.

The vehicle was named SLUFAE - "Surface-Launched Unit, Fuel-Air Explosive) - and was crewed by four. It weighed 12 tons and held a length of 6 meters with a width of 2.68 meters and a height of 3 meters. Drive power was provided by a General Motors 6V53T diesel-fueled engine developing 375 horsepower and allowing road speeds of 60 kmh with an operational range out to 410 kilometers. The hull remained amphibious and could also manage gradients of 60% and slopes of 30%.

Testing of the SLUFAE occurred between 1976 and 1978. The XM130 rocket had a range out to 150 meters and each weighed 86 kilograms with a 45 kilogram warhead fitted. As demolition weapons, the rockets were sound for destroying obstacles and activating buried mines however range was relatively short and required the vehicle to be close enough to a target area for the rockets to be truly effective. As a second-line, engineering-minded weapon, this was acceptable (in theory).

While promising, the SLUFAE venture was not followed through on and fell to history. The U.S. military continued the concept through the CATFAE ("CATapult-Launched, Fuel-Air Explosive") system instead.


1 Units
National flag of United States United States (cancelled)
- Amphibious
- Engineering
- Fire Support / Assault / Breaching
- Support / Special Purpose |
19.69 ft (6 m)
8.79 ft (2.68 m)
9.84 ft (3 m)
13 tons (12,000 kg; 26,455 lb)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the SLU-FAE (Prototype) production model)
1 x Detroit Diesel (General Motors) 6V53T diesel-fueled engine developing 375 horsepower.
(Showcased powerplant information pertains to the SLU-FAE (Prototype) production model)
Maximum Speed:
37 mph (60 kph)
Maximum Range:
255 miles (410 km)
(Showcased performance values pertain to the SLU-FAE (Prototype) production model; Compare this entry against any other in our database)
30 x 345mm rocket-launching unit over the rear of the hull.

30 x 345mm HE rockets
(Showcased armament details pertain to the SLU-FAE (Prototype) production model)
SLU-FAE - Base Series Designation; prototype model only.

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