Birdon, a family-owned engineering and services business headquartered in Port Macquarie, has handed over the first of 374 Australian designed Bridge Erection Boats (BEBs) to the US Army under a $325 million contract.
It’s an outstanding export success for Birdon, who recently completed the upgrade of the Australian Army’s own BEBs under a $16 million contract.
The vessels are road, air and sea transportable and are used to construct and manage floating ribbon (pontoon) bridges for mobile armoured units. When coupled to a bridge section they can also be used to ferry military vehicles across open water.
Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne congratulated Birdon for the successful delivery and upgrades, as it demonstrates the export potential of Australian defence industry.
“These boats are used by engineers to put together portable floating bridges for improvised crossings, so our vehicles and troops can keep on the move. It’s a vital capability for any Army, and it is fantastic that the US Army chose an Australian company to build them,” Minister Pyne said.
The upgrade of Australia’s boats sustained over 20 Australian jobs in Port Macquarie. The boats for the US Army are built in Birdon’s facility in Denver, Colorado.
“The delivery of the first of 374 of these boats to the US Army shows that Australia’s defence industry is creating innovative, globally competitive products,” Minister Pyne said.
“Through the Defence Export Strategy, we will see more companies like Birdon achieving success in the highly competitive international defence market.”
Birdon received support from Efic to establish their new production facility in the US and support their growth.
The first 34 boats were handed over during a First Unit Equipped Ceremony at the US Army Engineer School at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.