JCB will supply another 400 of its High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) to the US Army and US Marine Corps.
Prototypes of the machine, capable of speeds up to 55mph, were first developed in 2002 specifically for the US Army, which wanted a high-speed backhoe loader fit for military engineering. They also wanted it to be capable of travelling at military convoy speed without having to go on the back of a trailer.
In 2005, JCB was subsequently awarded $229m supply and service contracts. Subsequent contract extensions and international sales have seen HMEE production for the US and allied nations rise to 1,200 machines to date.
A new contract has now been signed for JCB to supply up to 400 HMEEs, which will all be manufactured at JCB’s North American headquarters in Savannah, Georgia. In addition to the base unarmoured HMEE, JCB will also provide armoured variants as well as attachments and service support.
JCB chief executive Graeme Macdonald said: “When it was developed, the HMEE revolutionised the way military tasks were carried out and we are delighted that the U.S. military has shown great faith in the product by placing this new order.”
The HMEE combines the capabilities of the regular JCB backhoe loader with the full suspension and anti-lock brakes of the high-speed JCB Fastrac tractor.
The 17.5 tonne, 6.7 litre engine machine is certified for military transport on ships, rail and aircraft, and for airdrop operations. It is available in various configurations including an armoured specification. It is four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, can lift more than two tonnes and dig to a depth of almost four metres.