JCB has been awarded a contract to supply the U.S. military with a fleet of specialized high-speed excavators over the next eight years in a deal worth up to $269 million (£217 million). The deal centers on the supply of High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) for the US Army and US Marine Corps.
Prototypes of the machine - capable of speeds up to 55 mph - 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 won the first multi-year production contract valued at approximately $209 million, with an additional service contract worth approximately $20 million. Subsequent contract extensions and international sales have boosted production to 1,200 machines for the U.S. and allied nations.
On July 6th, 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, GA. In addition to the base unarmored variant, JCB will be providing armored variants as well as attachments and service support.
Graeme Macdonald, JCB CEO says, “When it was developed, the HMEE revolutionized the way military tasks were carried out and we are delighted that the U.S. military has shown great faith in the project by placing this new order.”
“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,” said Richard Fox-Marrs, JCB North America president and CEO “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, which has full suspension and anti-lock brakes. The objective of the HMEE concept is to have a machine capable of traveling at military convoy speed without the need for transportation by a truck and low-loader trailer.
“The JCB Government and Defense team is proud to continue to support the U.S. military through the extension of the HMEE program," says Chris Giorgianni, vice president of Government and Defense at JCB North America. “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 program and working with the U.S. military on future projects.”
The 17.5-ton, 6.7-liter engine machines are well suited to a range of military and disaster relief missions, including earthmoving, fortification construction and ground clearing. The HMEE is certified for military transport on ships, rail and aircraft and for airdrop operations. It is available in various configurations including an armored specification. It is four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, can lift more than 2 tons and dig to a depth of almost 13 ft.