Nov. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Army has awarded DRS Sustainment Systems $17.2 million for acquisition of Joint Assault Bridges.
The award, announced Tuesday by the Department of Defense, is a modification to an existing contract, with manufacturing taking place in West Plains, Mo.
The production run is expected to be completed by May 2024 and has been funded using fiscal 2018 Army procurement funds.
The Joint Assault Bridge is used by Army Mobility Augmentation Companies and Brigade Engineer Battalions to provide assault-bridging support to Armored Brigade Combat Teams. ABCTs utilize heavy combat vehicles such as M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which often weigh too much to cross conventional bridges.
The JAB uses a M1A1 Abrams tank hull with an upgraded suspension system from the M1A2 integrated with the hydraulic bridge launcher system. It utilizes the Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge in the Military Load Class 95 Scissor Bridge category, designed for fast placement of bridge sections that can handle any Army vehicle.
The JAB main armored chassis is designed to be as survivable as the Abrams tank it is based on, allowing it to place assault bridges in combat environments without exposing its crew, and it's tracks give it high mobility in rugged terrain. It will replace existing AVLB chassis assault bridging vehicles on a one-for-one basis. The Army plans to eventually field 337 JABs to its engineer and transportation units
River crossings can be of serious concern to heavy tracked vehicles since existing bridges are often destroyed by the enemy as a defensive tactic, are placed at vulnerable points or simply can't bear the weight -- M1 Abrams tanks, for example, weigh more than 60 tons.
Assault bridging units provide mobility and a stronger, more flexible bridge than older systems that left construction crews vulnerable to enemy fire.