Giant armored earthmovers flying to the war

Image by U.S. Air Force/Timothy TaylorImage by 20081004armored.jpg An Army High Mobility Engineer Excavator is moved into position prior to being loaded onto a C-5 Galaxy September 29 at Charleston Air Force Base.

Charleston-based 437th Airlift Wing is using C-5s to airlift one of the war's newest vehicles to Iraq and Afghanistan: An armored high-speed earthmover.

The vehicles have been dubbed "High Mobility Engineer Excavator" or HMEE for short.

The Charleston Air Force Base reports:
"The purpose of the High Mobility Engineer Excavator is exactly that -- mobility -- the machine drives at 60 miles per hour both on- and off-road," said Chris Saucedo, the general manger from the company awarded the contract to build the HMEE. "This machine is definitely different; the concept has been proven with lesser mobile pieces of equipment in terms of rapid road repair. Now you have a machine that can actually integrate into patrols, maintain convoy speeds and it doesn't require additional lift assets."

The HMEE revolutionizes the way engineering is used on the battlefield. Battlefield commanders can bring logistics capabilities into their tactical patrols dramatically increasing: mobility -- opening up roads; counter-mobility - creating obstacles for the enemy; and, survivability -- providing water and supplies, building berms, and laying electrical lines.

The vehicles are manufactured by JCB of Savannah. The copany has an $800 million contract to build 800, that's around $287,500 a piece.

The Air Force has good photos and a write-up on how they'll be used, and The Post and Courier has a write-up more on the business side of the deal.

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