TechSweden Boosts Defense with $38 Million Advanced Bridging Kits from GDELS

Sweden Boosts Defense with $38 Million Advanced Bridging Kits from GDELS

M1A2 Abrams tank on a ferry made of four M3 vehicles
M1A2 Abrams tank on a ferry made of four M3 vehicles
Images source: © Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
10:44 AM EDT, March 30, 2024
General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) has secured a contract to supply the Swedish Armed Forces with advanced bridging kits. Under the arrangement facilitated by the Defense Materiel Administration, Sweden will acquire nine M3 systems at a cost of 38 million dollars. These systems are among the most sophisticated bridging solutions within NATO, boasting exceptional capabilities.
This transaction represents Sweden's third acquisition of the M3 model, ahead of the initial delivery of the first units. Prompted by developments observed in the Ukraine conflict, Sweden opted to augment its order. The commencement of deliveries is slated for this fall, with a total of 25 vehicles expected by 2027. This marks the largest recent M3 order from any nation, earning Sweden favorable delivery conditions due to the significant scale of procurement.
"The opportunity to exercise this contractual option is tremendously positive," articulated Jonas Lotsne of the Defense Materiel Administration. "It equips our forces with a rapid-deployment communication system beyond a mere singular bridge, enabling swifter operational capability than initially projected."
Unloading of Leclerc and Leopard 2 tanks from the M3 ferry
Unloading of Leclerc and Leopard 2 tanks from the M3 ferry© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
Designed by Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern in Germany and presently produced by GDELS in the United States, the M3 amphibious rig is a versatile vehicle. On land, it functions akin to a truck, propelled by a robust 398 kW (534 horsepower) diesel engine, achieving speeds up to nearly 50 mph. Its maneuverability is enhanced by dual steerable axles and a remote-controlled tire pressure adjustment system, allowing for surface adaptability. In water, the M3 relies on dual jet propulsions, reaching speeds up to 9 mph depending on conditions. It is manned by a two-person crew.
The M3 demonstrates versatility in operation. Four units can join to form a ferry capable of carrying heavy NATO armored vehicles, such as the Leopard 2, M1A2 Abrams, or Challenger 2 tanks, credited to its Military Load Classification (MLC) 85 rating. Alternatively, the M3 can serve as a pontoon bridge, with vehicles interlinked by ramps. This high degree of automation coupled with impressive aquatic mobility enables the swift assembly of a 328-foot bridge in approximately 15 minutes.
Notably, the "Anakonda" exercises in Poland in 2016 saw the most extended M3 floating bridge constructed to date, stretching 1,148 feet, accomplished by a combined effort of British and German vehicles in just 35 minutes. The M3's proficiency was further showcased during the "Dragon-24" maneuvers, successfully transporting various combat vehicles across the Vistula River.
Four M3 wagons make up one ferry with a capacity of MLC 85.
Four M3 wagons make up one ferry with a capacity of MLC 85.© Licensor | MACIEJ_HYPS
Making its combat debut in 2003 during the Iraq War, M3 vehicles from the British Army's 28th Engineer Regiment established a critical crossing over the Shatt Al-Basrah canal. This strategic move facilitated a swift advance towards Basra.
M3 maneuvering on the Vistula before connecting into one bridge
M3 maneuvering on the Vistula before connecting into one bridge© Licensor | Maciej Hypś
Given Sweden's landscape, marked by an extensive network of rivers and streams, the need for reliable bridging systems is paramount. Such capabilities are crucial not only for defense but also in maintaining the flow of military logistics, especially in scenarios where conventional bridges may be compromised.
A 350-meter bridge across the Vistula made of 30 M3 cars
A 350-meter bridge across the Vistula made of 30 M3 cars© Licensor | Maciej Hypś
The M3 vehicle in a position folded for moving on roads.
The M3 vehicle in a position folded for moving on roads.© Licensor | Maciej Hypś
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