JCB has won a US$ 50 million contract to supply high-speed backhoe loaders to the US Army. The High Mobility Engineer Excavators (HMEEs) will be manufactured at JCB’s North American plant in Savannah, Georgia, and will be delivered by 2017.

Engineered in the UK and produced in the US, the 16 tonne HMEE is capable of speeds of up to 60 mph (96 km/h), eliminating the need to transport the machine using a truck and a low-loader. The machine also comes with blast protection systems, which JCB says have saved the lives of operators who have encountered improvised explosive devices while on duty in conflict zones.

The US Army was the first military organisation to purchase HMEEs when in 2005 it ordered 636 of the machines for US$ 206 million. JCB says this remains the largest single order in 68-year history. Since then the company has gone on to sell the machine to armed forces in the UK, Sweden, Germany, UAE, Australia, New Zealand and other allied nations.

JCB Chief Executive Graeme Macdonald said, “Over the past 30 years, JCB has supplied armies in 57 countries with over 4,000 machines and we are delighted to build on that success by securing this latest contract with the United States Army.”

Arjun Mirdha, President and CEO of JCB North America added, “The fact that the US Army has once again chosen JCB to produce this extraordinary piece of equipment is a testament to the quality and innovation of the JCB HMEE. We are very proud to manufacture a machine that protects the lives of our servicemen and women in the course of their military duties.”

The HMEE-1 boasts a 6.7 litre diesel engine and is four wheel drive and four wheel steer. It can lift 1.8 tonnes and dig to a depth of around 4 m. It is offered in a base model, a full-crew protection model and a much enhanced protection NATO Theatre Entry Standard model.

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