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Combat engineering vehicle

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A combat engineering vehicle (CEV) is an armored fighting vehicle that provides combat engineers with battlefield protection against enemy fire, while they support the movement of fighting forces. Most commonly, a CEV is built on the chassis of a tank, from which the regular turret is removed, and engineer-specific superstructure added.

The turret replacement usually mounts a crane, and may have a short-barreled, large-caliber gun for destroying obstacles. In addition, an earthmoving blade is normally mounted on the front. The CEV may carry other large pieces of equipment such as an earth auger drill for emplacing explosives, mines, or barrier structures.

Many CEVs have a crew compartment that can carry an engineer team and their portable equipment. Some have launchers for line charges for mine clearing.

There is controversy, in the U.S. Army, about the lack of a current CEV. The M729 combat engineering vehicle was well proven, but was a derivative of the M60 Patton tank and too slow to keep up with other armored vehicles. An Army next-generation variants based on the M1 Abrams tank, the Grizzly, was cancelled for budgetary reasons, although the U.S. Marine Corps did implement a M1-based Assault Breacher Vehicle.

There are engineer squad carrier variants of armored personnel carriers, derived from the older M113 armored personnel carrier and then the M2A2-ODS-E Bradley, but these do not have all the capabilities of the tank-based vehicles. A problem not solved is the the principal mine-clearing device, the M58 mine clearing line charge (MICLIC). In Army use, this is normally towed by a M113 engineer vehicle or a AVLB bridge launcher; the latter is a major field modification. Even if it were chosen to attack an M113 just to handle the MICLIC, the difference in speed, maneuverability and protection of the M113 would be a mismatch to Bradley units. The problem is not solved, and the Marines have a different set of requirements. The Grizzly can carry out deep demining that MICLIC cannot, so both may actually be needed.

An intermediate vehicle is in the Stryker armored fighting vehicle family, the M1132 engineer squad vehicle. In the cancelled Future Combat Systems was the XM1202 Mounted Combat System, which combined CEV and direct fire artillery roles.