January 25, 2023:
Taiwan is buying fourteen M126 Ground Volcano mine dispensing systems for nearly $13 million each. Delivery is expected to start in 2024 or 2025. Each Ground Volcano system is mounted on a 10-ton truck where short-range mortar tubes are used to launch canisters of mostly anti-vehicle mines designed to disable a vehicle by blowing off a tire or breaking the track on a tank. Each canister contains some anti-personnel mines to make it more difficult for enemy troops to quickly clear the anti-vehicle mines out of the way. Before using Volcano, you can set the self-destruct time for the mines for anything between 4 hours to 15 days. This prevents anyone from retrieving, disarming and reusing the mines. Ground Volcano dispensers mounted on trucks take from four to twelve minutes to dispense 960 mines that create a mined area 1,100 meters wide and 120 meters deep. Taiwan has about a dozen useful invasion beaches and lots of high ground behind those beaches. The Volcano trucks can be based nearby each beach in a protected (from pre-invasion missile strikes) location, and move to its beach and disperse the mines when a Chinese invasion is imminent.
There is also Air Volcano in which the dispensers are carried by a UH-60 helicopter that can dispense 960 mines in any terrain in less than a minute.
Volcano was developed in the late 1980s for Cold War type battles against Russian attacks employing lots hundreds or thousands of armored vehicles. Volcano got some limited use in the 1990s but was put into storage after 2001. In 2017 the U.S. Army took its M126 (truck mounted) and M139 (helicopter mounted) Volcano mine dispenser systems out of storage and put them back in active service. Originally each U.S. Army aviation brigade had three of the Air Volcano systems, which were seen as an ideal weapon when you had to quickly weaken and slow down an advancing enemy armor force. Ground Volcano systems were assigned to engineer units to create minefields when more time was available.
Britain built its own version of Volcano called the Shielder anti-vehicle system. Based on licensed Volcano tech, Shielder entered service in 1995 and saw some use in Iraq during the 2003 invasion. Shielder can put anti-vehicle mines into an area 1,000 meters wide and ten meters deep in less than a minute. The Shielder mortars are mounted on a modified Stormer armored vehicle but can be mounted on a flatbed trucks as well. The anti-vehicle mines deactivate after a set period of time. The mines are similar to those used in the American version. Shielder was withdrawn from service, mainly for budgetary reasons, in 2012.