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Speeding into military action

JCB High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) pictured on duty in Afghanistan producing a protective wall

JCB has won a $50 million contract to supply high-speed backhoe loaders to the United States Army, the company announced today. The High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) will be manufactured at JCB’s North American plant in Savannah, Georgia, and will be delivered by 2017.

The US Army was the first military organisation to purchase HMEEs when in 2005 it ordered 636 of the machines – a JCB contract that was worth $206 million and which today remains the biggest single order in JCB’s 68-year history. Since then the company has gone on to sell the machine to armed forces in the UK, Sweden, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, New Zealand and other allied nations.

JCB Chief Executive Graeme Macdonald said: “Over the past 30 years, JCB has supplied armies in 57 countries with over 4,000 machines and we are delighted to build on that success by securing this latest contract with the United States Army.”

Arjun Mirdha, President and CEO of JCB North America added: “The fact that the US Army has once again chosen JCB to produce this extraordinary piece of equipment is a testament to the quality and innovation of the JCB HMEE. We are very proud to manufacture a machine that protects the lives of our servicemen and women in the course of their military duties.”

Engineered in Britain and produced in the USA, the 16 tonne (17.5 ton) HMEE revolutionised the way military engineering tasks were tackled. Capable of speeds of up to 60mph, the HMEE is able to keep up with military convoys on the road, eliminating the need to transport the machine using a truck and a low-loader.

As a result roads can be cleared, obstacles removed and routes for the opposition blocked with great efficiency. This is all achieved by combining the digging and loading capabilities of the world-renowned JCB backhoe loader and the innovative high-speed JCB Fastrac tractor, the only tractor to have full suspension and anti-lock brakes.

The machine also comes with blast protection systems, so effective that on several occasions it has saved the lives of operators who have encountered improvised explosive devices while on duty in conflict zones.

The machine being supplied under the new contract is the HMEE-1 model complete with brand new air delivery capability by C-17 aircraft. It is also air transportable in a C130 Hercules aircraft. The contract also includes the provision of training and service support. The machines supplied will be a mix of A-kit unprotected models and B-kit models with full crew protection.

The HMEE-1 boasts a 6.7 litre diesel engine and is four wheel drive and four wheel steer. It can lift 1.8 tonnes (2 tons) and dig to a depth of around 13 feet. It is offered in a base model, a full-crew protection model and a much enhanced protection NATO Theatre Entry Standard model.

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