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Army Buying High-Speed Backhoes

Posted on June 19, 2014

JCB said it has received a $50 million contract to supply high-speed backhoe loaders to the United States 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.

The US Army was the first military organization to purchase HMEEs when in 2005 it awarded JCB a contract that was worth $206 million, and today remains the largest single order in JCB’s 68-year history. Since then the company has gone on to sell armies in 57 countries with over 4000 machines, JCB Chief Executive Graeme Macdonald said.

The 17.5-ton HMEE is capable of speeds of up to 60mph, allowing the HMEE to keep up with military convoys on the road, eliminating the need to transport the machine using a truck and trailer. 

The design of the HMEE combines the digging and loading capabilities of the JCB backhoe loader and the high-speed JCB Fastrac tractor, a tractor with full suspension and anti-lock brakes.  The machine also comes with blast protection systems. 

The machine being supplied under the new contract is the HMEE-1 model with new air delivery capability by C-17 aircraft. It is also air transportable in a C130 Hercules aircraft. The contract also includes the provision of training and service support. The machines supplied will be a mix of A-kit standard models and B-kit models with full crew protection.

Power for the HMEE-1 is a Cummins QSB 6.7-liter diesel engine rated 200 hp driving a ZF Ergopower transmission.  The HMEE-1 is both four-wheel drive and four-wheel steer. It can lift 2 tons and dig to a depth of approximately 13 feet.  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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