JCB has been awarded a contract, expected to be worth up to $140 million, to supply the U.S. Army with a high-speed backhoe loaders for military engineering tasks. The high mobility engineer excavator (HMEE) vehicle has been designed to meet the requirements specified by U.S. Army TACOM for a backhoe loader capable of speeds up to 57 mph.
The award of the contract by TACOM, the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command, follows a three-year program of design, development and testing to produce a military machine to meet stringent performance criteria. Following the approval of production validation test machines during 2006, full production will commence in 2007 at JCB in Savannah, GA. Deliveries are scheduled to continue until 2012.
The HMEE combines the capabilities of the JCB backhoe loader and the high-speed JCB Fastrac agricultural tractor, which is the only tractor to have full suspension and anti-lock brakes. The objective of the HMEE concept is to have a machine capable of traveling at military convoy speed without the need for transportation by a truck and low-trailer. A fully-armored version is under discussion.
The 12-ton HMEE will boast a 5.9-L diesel engine, four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer, lift more than 2 tons and dig to a depth of almost 13 ft. (4 m). It is designed to be air-transportable by Hercules C-130 aircraft.
Helmut Peters, president of JCB Inc. North America said, “Our Savannah team designed and developed this vehicle to meet the U.S. Army’s critical mission needs and the JCB HMEE is a remarkable machine ready to support the U.S. Army.”