JCB has been awarded a contract to supply the U.S. military with a fleet of specialised high speed excavators over the next eight years in a deal worth up to $269 million (£217 million).
The deal centres on the supply of High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) for the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps.
Prototypes of the machine - capable of speeds up to 55mph (88kph) - 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.
Today it was confirmed that 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 world-renowned JCB backhoe loader and the innovative high-speed JCB Fastrac - the world’s fastest tractor, which has full suspension and anti-lock brakes. 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.
Chris Giorgianni, Vice President of Government and Defence at JCB North America, said: "The JCB Government and Defense 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."
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. In addition to its top speed of 55mph (88kph), the HMEE is certified for military transport on ships, rail and aircraft, and for airdrop operations. It is available in various configurations including an armoured specification. It is four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, can lift more than two tonnes and dig to a depth of almost four metres.