An Australian dry support bridge on order from a British company is nearly ready for delivery.
CAPTION: British VIPs examine a WFEL dry support bridge ready for shipment to the Australian Army. WFEL photo.
UK Defence Minister Stuart Andrew yesterday visited Stockport military bridge manufacturer WFEL to mark the completion of a multi-million-pound contract to supply the Australian Army with the vital logistics equipment.
Mr Andrew described WFEL, which has benefited from £600m-worth of export orders, as “a model for how companies across the UK can thrive on the global stage”.
The minister was accompanied by the Head of Australian Defence Staff London Air Commodore Brian Edwards and both were given a demonstration of the complete build and launch of a dry support bridge, which can be deployed in less than 90 minutes by a team of only eight personnel.
The bridge can support 120 tonnes over a 46-metre span.
The bridges will be used in combat situations providing rapidly deployable temporary infrastructure ensuring vital equipment and soldiers can navigate their way through the most challenging terrain.
The military bridges can also be used in times of crisis during natural disasters, maintaining essential lifelines to those who need it the most.
Defence Minister Andrew said WFEL was leading the way across the world in making military bridges that help troops defeat enemies and provide essential aid to people in disaster zones.
“As they finish an order for Australia, kick one off for America and look towards more opportunities to build British bridges, they are a model for how companies across the country [and the world?] can thrive on the global stage and play a key role in the defence of our nation,” Mr Andrew said.
“Work continues at WFEL following the completion of this Australian order as the company has now turned its focus to new orders for the US Army, building upon the 116 military bridges that the company has already built for US forces.”
WFEL has been designing and producing bridges for the UK military since the 1970s – the British Army has more than 50 sets in service today.
WFEL CEO Ian Anderton said that as the leading tactical military bridge maker globally, WFEL continued to work to provide solutions for customers like the Australian Defence Force.
“Our long-standing relationship with the ADF first began more than 30 years ago, when they chose our medium girder bridges,” Mr Anderton said.
“We have been delighted to continue to support them again today, not only with the supply of further MGBs but also with a significant capability enhancement with the latest mechanised dry support bridges.
“The adoption of the DSB not only provides the ADF’s manoeuvre commanders with the ability to cross significant wet or dry gaps quickly and efficiently, it allows a level of inter-operability with an ever-growing user base.
“We have worked collaboratively with the Commonwealth’s managing contractor to reduce risk for this contract and are pleased to be providing an off-the-shelf solution to the ADF’s wide-gap tactical bridging requirements.”
Air Commodore Brian Edwards said this project would introduce into service the latest addition to the Australian Army’s suite of combat bridging.
“It will ensure that the Australian Defence Force has an enhanced gap-crossing capability that will enable land forces – both mounted and dismounted – to cross wet and dry gaps in support of operations.”
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