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LAAD 2019: WFEL Highlights Bridging for Emergency & Disaster Operations

Fast and Efficient Gap-Crossing Capabilities

With a long history of serving the South American military and governmental market, bridging specialist WFEL will be highlighting its emergency and disaster zone rapidly deployable bridging solutions at LAAD 2019, alongside partner companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Nexter.

The region is no stranger to extreme weather conditions, but recent years have seen the continent hit by some of the worst disasters on record, including earthquakes, hurricanes, severe flooding and landslides. In the aftermath, needing to move people and emergency aid quickly and safely, national armed forces are often called upon to help alongside local and national agencies; the trend towards collaboration in the world of disaster relief is constantly on the increase.

As extreme weather events increase in number and scale, susceptible countries – including those in the Latin America region – need to put in place appropriate contingency plans, including holding a stock of rapidly-deployable, temporary infrastructure to allow swift access to affected areas in time-critical situations. Government departments – including defence forces and disaster relief agencies – are increasingly working together to share resources, which makes dual-use systems that can be deployed both in combat and emergency relief missions hugely valuable.

Adaptable, rapidly-deployable military bridges are seen as the ideal solution. Not only do they provide the advantage of fast deployment, they can also be a more cost-effective alternative to moving large quantities of aid by helicopter.

WFEL’s Dry Support Bridge (DSB) has attracted significant interest from armed forces and emergency and disaster relief bodies, and is already held in inventory by the armed forces on several continents. The DSB is the longest non-reinforced bridge of its class anywhere in the world and is rated to MLC 120. Using an innovative launching mechanism, the system is versatile and can be adapted to fit to a variety of host vehicles commonly used by the armed forces. Crucially, in rapidly-escalating combat or disaster relief scenarios when every second counts, the DSB offers fast and efficient deployment. Eight soldiers or trained civilians can launch the system to cross a 46m gap in less than 90 min, providing fast access for vehicles and quickly getting people and supplies moving.

The strength of WFEL’s Medium Girder Bridge (MGB) lies in its adaptability. Made up of several components, it can be added to or swapped as required, no matter what the age of the bridge, helping to maximise the lifespan of older stock. This also enables variance in the gap span between 10m and 76m, to fit almost any purpose. The bridge can be converted to a floating system, making it suitable for flood rescue and additional add-ons include handrails and kerbs, making it well-suited for challenging passing conditions in natural disasters.

As with the DSB, the MGB is lightweight and easily transportable. Its modular design means it can be constructed by hand without the need for heavy plant or machinery, which can be tricky to negotiate in hostile or constricted territories.

To date, over 500 MGB systems have been produced for armed forces across the world, including North and Latin America, Africa, Australasia, Europe and the Far East. Because of its multiple capabilities, it remains in demand for both military and emergency and disaster relief operations.



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