JCB is ready to report for duty. The company recently announced that it has won a $50 million contract to supply high-speed backhoe loaders to the United States Army. The High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) will be manufactured at JCB’s North American plant in Savannah, Ga., and will be delivered by 2017.
The U.S. Army was the first military organization to purchase HMEEs when in 2005 it awarded JCB a contract that was worth $206 million and which today remains the largest single order in JCB’s 68-year history. Since then, the company has gone on to sell the machine to several other allied nations.
“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,” said JCB Chief Executive Graeme Macdonald.
“The fact that the U.S. Army has once again chosen JCB, and its Savannah, Ga.-based manufacturing facility, to produce this extraordinary piece of equipment is a testament to the quality and innovation of the JCB HMEE. As well, this new contract will offer our Savannah employees many new opportunities,” added Arjun Mirdha, President and CEO of JCB North America. “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 by a global team and produced in the United States, the 17.5-ton HMEE revolutionized the way military engineering tasks were tackled. Capable of speeds of up to 60 mph, the HMEE is able to keep up with military convoys on the road, eliminating the need to transport the machine using a truck and trailer.
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 JCB backhoe loader and the high-speed JCB Fastrac tractor, the only tractor to have full suspension and anti-lock brakes, says the company.
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 standard models and B-kit models with full crew protection.
The HMEE-1 boasts a 6.7-liter diesel engine and is four-wheel drive and four-wheel steer. It can lift 2 tons and dig to a depth of approximately 13 ft. It is offered in a base model, a full-crew protection model and a much enhanced protection NATO Theatre Entry Standard model.