• Ian Wilson, managing director  WFEL and Bob Lumley, deputy director general, Land Manoeuvre Systems, CASG after contract signing. Credit: WFEL Australia
    Ian Wilson, managing director WFEL and Bob Lumley, deputy director general, Land Manoeuvre Systems, CASG after contract signing. Credit: WFEL Australia

The agreement signed by the tactical military bridge manufacturer, is made up of two contracts and follows an internationally competed tender.  It will see WFEL supply its leading Medium Girder Bridges (MGBs) and Dry Support Bridges (DSBs) to the ADF.

The contracts form part of the Australian Defence Force’s Land 155 Program, a project to provide land forces with the ability to cross wet and dry gaps during combat operations.

The bridges provide temporary infrastructure and have the potential to be used in combat situations and in the event of natural disasters. They will be manufactured at WFEL’s production facility in Stockport, UK, and delivery will begin by Q3 of 2017.

“This is another major contract for us and one which extends our long-standing relationship with the ADF,” WFEL CEO Ian Wilson said.

“Our Dry Support Bridge is the world’s most technically-advanced, rapidly-deployable military bridge of its type, while the Medium Girder Bridge’s modular design continues to prove its worth in both combat and natural disaster relief situations time and again.” 

Wilson said by choosing to order both bridge types, the ADF is ensuring it has the future capability to quickly cross physical terrain as complex as rivers, ravines and man-made gaps as efficiently as possible and under the widest possible operational scenarios.

The MGB, which first entered service more than 30 years ago, and has played a major role in both military and disaster relief operations around the world, is used by over 40 armed forces worldwide.  Under the ADF contract, WFEL will supply double-storey, link-reinforced MGB bridge sets which can span up to 49 metres.

These bridges will be supplemented by additional equipment which will allow bridges of up to 76 metres to be constructed, using WFEL’s portable pier sets.

WFEL will also supply DSBs which can be deployed by just eight people in under 90 minutes. The bridges will be specially manufactured by WFEL to be launched from the ADF’s RMMV Rheinmetall MAN 10x10 fully-armoured military vehicles.

The DSB – of which over 130 systems have been sold worldwide – is already in use with the US, Swiss and Turkish armed forces and has been used as temporary infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Both the MGBs and DSBs will be supplied with additional walkways, which allow foot traffic to safely cross the bridge away from vehicular traffic. 

“While the MGB is replacing an earlier version of the same bridge which entered service decades ago, the Dry Support Bridge capability is new to the Australian Army and will provide our Manoeuvre Commanders with the ability to cross significant wet or dry gaps in a fraction of the time it would have previously taken,” project liaison for Land 155 Major Ben Bridge said.

“Notably, the ability of the Dry Support Bridge to support gap crossings within a 90 minute timeframe is a significant capability enhancement for the Australian Army.” 

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