Digger-maker JCB has been awarded a £217 million contract to supply the U.S. Military with a fleet of specialised high-speed excavators over the next eight years.
The Staffordshire manufacturer will supply up to 400 High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps.
Prototypes of the machine – capable of speeds up to 55mph – were first developed in 2002 specifically for the U.S. Army to meet its demand for a high-speed backhoe loader capable of undertaking military engineering tasks.
In 2005, JCB was subsequently awarded a contract worth around $209 million, along with an additional service contract valued at around $20 million.
Subsequent contract extensions and international sales have seen HMEE production for the U.S. and allied nations rise to 1,200 machines.
Now a new contract has been signed for the supply of up to 400 HMEEs which will all be manufactured at JCB’s North American headquarters in Savannah, Georgia.
In addition to the base unarmoured HMEE, JCB will also provide armoured variants as well as attachments and service support.
JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald said: “When it was developed, the HMEE revolutionised the way military tasks were carried out and we are delighted that the U.S. military has shown great faith in the product by placing this new order.”
JCB Inc President and CEO Richard Fox-Marrs added: “To win this eight year contract is fantastic news for JCB’s North America headquarters, which has been manufacturing HMEEs here for the past 13 years. The U.S. military has shown tremendous confidence in this JCB product which speaks volumes for the team behind its design, engineering, manufacturing and after sales support.”
The HMEE combines the capabilities of the JCB backhoe loader and the high-speed JCB Fastrac – the world’s fastest tractor.
The objective of the HMEE concept is to have a machine capable of travelling at military convoy speed without the need for transportation by a truck and low-loader trailer.
The 17.5 tonne, 6.7 litre engine machines are well suited to a range of military and disaster relief missions, including earthmoving, fortification construction and ground clearing.
Chris Giorgianni, Vice President of Government and Defence at JCB North America, said: “The JCB Government and Defence team is proud to continue to support the U.S. military through the extension of the HMEE programme.
“The fact that the U.S. military has entrusted JCB to manufacture the HMEE for over a decade is a testament to the work the entire team here has accomplished. We look forward to furthering the HMEE programme and working with the U.S. military on future projects.”