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UK TYRO Project

Aiming to bring new bridging elements into UK service by 2022

When considering the capability gaps across NATO, the ability to lay tactical bridges at need is high on the list. Russian resurgence has once again moved gap-crossing further up the military planning agenda. In addition, the overall weight of main battle tanks (MBT) has been increasing for decades, necessitating the upgrading of bridge-laying systems already in service – for example, the UK’s BR90 system. The British Army has been seeking a graceful method of upgrading or completely replacing existing bridging capacity since 2014.

The resulting TYRO programme aims to bring new bridging elements into service by 2022, with an expectation that service life will stretch through 2040 at the very least. Minimum MLC required will be 100 for tracked vehicles. The army currently requires 30+ new sets of Close Support Bridging (CSB) equipment for the TITAN bridge-layer (according to a 2014 requirements statement,) each of which consists of two 13.5m bridges and a single 26m scissor bridge, which combined can span gaps up to 60m. Additionally, there are 16 general Dry Support Bridges (DSB) required, each consisting of a single Automotive Bridge Launch Equipment (ABLE) vehicle, capable of laying 32 m single span bridges, expandable to 44m with additional elements. Project TYRO recognises the obsolescent nature of the carrier vehicles, as well as the currently inadequate MLC class of the bridging elements themselves.

WFEL Ltd., a fully owned subsidiary of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), is offering the LEGUAN system as a potential replacement solution. At the moment the LEGUAN is used by 16 countries, including the Netherlands, US, Sweden, Finland, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland, Singapore, and Malaysia, with further nations considering adoption. LEGUAN can be mounted on several platforms, including LEOPARD 1, LEOPARD 2, CHALLENGER 2, PT 91/T72, M1A2 ABRAMS, M47, M60, and a wide range of 8×8 and 10×10 trucks.

It is available in two versions: 26m and 14m, and although it normally requires a two-man crew, can also be operated by one. Current load capacity is MLC80 (tracked and wheeled) – with exceptional loads of 85t (tracked) and 100t (wheeled) respectively.

KMW is currently investigating whether an MLC of 100 can be offered as standard. The bridges can be launched automatically from under armor with tracked vehicle 24/7, with a 14m bridge achieved in less than five minutes or a 26m within six. One vehicle can carry one 26 m or two 14 m bridges. As a Tandem Bridging (Overlapping Launching) up to three 26 m bridges can be used to cover a 50m gap, while another advantage is that the tracked platform can also move while carrying a coupled bridge. The system allows for a very low, flat laying profile of less than 4 metres. The crew compartment is entirely free from hydraulics, which enhances safety, and the bridge laying procedure can be stooped or reversed at any time.

Having been used in Afghanistan (as the US M104 WOLVERINE system), Kosovo, and also in Arctic conditions on exercises, LEGUAN is a combat proven system. It offers significant interoperability, can be ferried using pontoons by catering for MLC 30 (three pontoons) or MLC 80 (six). Even a floating bridge of up to 88.2m can be built by using ferries.

With optional additions of a handrail and MLC12 centre cover plates, system can be used as a dual-role construct for civil applications. A life cycle monitor automatically records usage and calculates the remaining life time.

According to latest intelligence, the UK MoD considers the purchase of CSB systems, with CHALLENGER 2 as the mandated mobility platform. The WFEL Dry Support Bridge (DSB) for gaps up to 46m will be part of KMW/WFEL’s TYRO solution as well. TITAN requires only some enhancement to remain current. must only be adjusted, it already exists. Down selection has already been achieved, it is understood, with only BAE Systems and KMW/WFEL still in contention.

In the Netherlands, LEGUAN is already used on a wheeled platform, but procurement of LEOPARD 2 based systems are under consideration; Germany just ordered seven systems (delivery will take place 2018-21) with up to 20 systems under consideration in the long run (also on LEOPARD 2), and Switzerland has just bought LEGUAN and the DSB. To date the LEGUAN footprint extends to more than 160 tracked and 45 wheeled platforms, totalling over 300 bridges and more than 20 ferry- or floating-bridge configurations.

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