Under Project Land 155 phase 1, Defence ordered five different systems
The Australian Army is set to receive its final set of new bridging systems that will allow its vehicles to cross geographical boundaries in both military and civil disaster relief operations.
Under Project Land 155 phase 1, Defence ordered five different systems and UK bridging manufacturer WFEL is completing the deliveries of two of those: the Medium Girder Bridge (MGB) that meets the modular bridging system requirement; and the Dry Support Bridge (DSB) to meet the rapid emplacement bridge requirement.
According to Defence there has been a minor delay as WFEL was due to have delivered all four MGBs by July but the final system is yet to arrive. A spokesperson from the company told MONCh that the fourth MGB has been completed and is being shipped and is due to arrive later this month.
Four of the five DSBs are delivered with the fifth unit completing testing in the UK at WFEL’s facility and is due to be shipped to Australia. Although verification and validation of the bridging systems is completed in the UK the company has trained a bridging capability team for the Army at Holsworthy Barracks to operate the systems.
Final operational test and evaluation (OTE) of the DSB is due in October. Defence said that, “Army does not deem operational test and evaluation necessary for the modular bridging system,” and the bridges will be stationed around the country to ensure they are close to areas where they could be needed to reduce transit times.
WFEL was awarded a contract worth about $63 million in 2015 out of a total expenditure for the Land 155 phase 1 programme of A$200 million. The other three systems that have been delivered include four ribbon bridge floating bridge systems from General Dynamics European Land Systems; 18 footbridges from IMI Systems (an Elbit Systems company); and 24 bridge erection and propulsion boats from Birdon Group.
Defence stated: “The floating bridge system is replacing the existing floating support bridge. The modular bridging system is replacing the existing medium girder bridge. The bridge erection and propulsion boat is an upgrade of the existing bridge erection and propulsion boat fleet. The rapid emplacement bridge and the footbridge are new capabilities.”
The Australian Army already possesses four older MGB systems that it has had in service for 30 years. The MGB is a two girder modular system that consists of a series of 4m wide deck blocks that are light enough to be transported on Land Rover sized vehicles and constructed by hand and lifted by 4-6 people.
The DSB launcher arm will be installed on the Army’s 45M 10×10 trucks it is buying from Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) under project Land 121 Phase 3b and 5b. The bridging modules are transported separated on HX77 8×8 trucks and trailers and can reach a distance of 46m with a launch completed in less than 90 minutes and the ability to support a 100t load.