Prototypes of the machine – said to be capable of speeds up to 55mph – were first developed in 2002, specifically for the U.S. Army to meet its demand for a high-speed backhoe loader capable of undertaking military engineering tasks. In 2005, JCB was subsequently awarded a contract worth around $209 million, along with an additional service contract valued at around $20 million.
Subsequent contract extensions and international sales have seen HMEE production for the U.S. and allied nations rise to 1,200 machines. And earlier this week, it was confirmed that a new contract has been signed for the supply of up to 400 HMEEs, which will all be manufactured at JCB’s North American headquarters in Savannah, Georgia. In addition to the base unarmoured HMEE, JCB will also provide armoured variants, as well as attachments and service support.
JCB CEO Graeme Macdonald says: “When it was developed, the HMEE revolutionised the way military tasks were carried out and we are delighted that the U.S. military has shown great faith in the product by placing this new order.”
JCB Inc president and CEO Richard Fox-Marrs adds: “To win this eight year contract is fantastic news for JCB’s North America Headquarters, which has been manufacturing HMEEs here for the past 13 years. The U.S. military has shown tremendous confidence in this JCB product which speaks volumes for the team behind its design, engineering, manufacturing and after sales support.”
The HMEE combines the capabilities of the JCB backhoe loader and the JCB Fastrac. The 17.5 tonne, 6.7 litre engine machines are said to be well suited to a range of military and disaster relief missions, including earthmoving, fortification construction and ground clearing.
Chris Giorgianni, VP of Government and Defence at JCB North America, says: “The JCB Government and Defense team is proud to continue to support the U.S. military through the extension of the HMEE programme. The fact that the U.S. military has entrusted JCB to manufacture the HMEE for over a decade is a testament to the work the entire team here has accomplished. We look forward to furthering the HMEE programme and working with the U.S. military on future projects.”