About 10 years into a successful run of manufacturing a high-speed, armored backhoe for the U.S. Army, the machine's impact is still being praised at JCB, particularly at the company's North American headquarters in Savannah, Georgia. In a recent report from the Savannah Morning News, JCB explained how it won its initial $206 million contract — the largest order in the company's history — to build the High Mobility Engineer Excavator and told the paper that more military projects are in the works.
The HMEE is a 17.5-ton backhoe that is capable of reaching speeds up to 60 miles per hour. Powered by a 6.7-liter Cummins QSB engine, the machine can lift up to 2 tons and has a dig depth of 13 feet. Due to its high-speed capabilities, the backhoe is able to travel inline with military convoys rather than being tugged along a tow. Additionally, troops use the machines to clear roads, remove obstacles and block the opposition's routes — all with blast protection from the machine's armored plates.
The Army has been so pleased with the machine's performance that it placed a second order for more units last year. In response, JCB has moved its Government and Defense division from Great Britain to Savannah. It's there that this 50-person team has begun work on at least three more military projects. Since 2005, the Savannah plant has built nearly 1,000 HMEEs.
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Able to pull its own weight in line with a convoy, the armored backhoe also visually fits in with the camoflauged vehicles.