The five-year agreement will see WFEL procure and fit upgrade kits to 97 of its Dry Support Bridge (DSB) 40-metre systems to enable the US Army to cross gaps of 46 metres. A total of 34 systems will be upgraded in the first 12 months.

Comprising an additional bridge panel and new launching beam, the upgrade kit also includes additional items to strengthen the launch vehicle, and can be retrospectively fitted to the 40-metre system.

The upgrade kits will be built at WFEL’s manufacturing site in Stockport, UK, and installed by WFEL-trained personnel in the US. The company will also deliver a comprehensive training programme to guide the US Army on operation and maintenance, as well as a spares package, including a hydraulic adapter kit to allow repairs to be carried out in the field.

The DSB was originally developed for the US Army in 1996 to provide temporary infrastructure in combat situations and in the event of natural disasters and can be deployed by a crew of eight people in less than 90 minutes.

The deal extends WFEL’s relationship with the US Army, a customer for 30 years, with 108 DSBs in inventory. DSBs operated by the US Army have been used in combat and emergency scenarios in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ian Wilson, chief executive of WFEL, said: “The US Army adopted the 46-metre Dry Support Bridge into service in 2013 and, since then, we have been working closely with them to ensure that all their DSB equipment is capable of fulfilling its maximum potential.

“The development of a DSB upgrade route, which increases the current system’s gap-crossing capability by 15 per cent, at a cost of less than 10 per cent of the original purchase price, is testament to the capabilities of our engineering and manufacturing personnel.

“The simplicity of these upgrades allows the work to be carried out at the user’s facility, with minimal disruption and without any system being required to be returned to WFEL.”

The DSB was designed to be capable of spanning gaps of 40 metres. It has since been modified by WFEL to increase its capability and cross gaps of 46 metres with minimal design changes. The 46-metre DSB upgrade was developed under contract with the US Army Tank Automotive Command Centre (TACOM) in Detroit. Once the 46-metre capability was approved, all new contracts for the purchase of the DSB for the US Army were based around the improved system. A total of 96 of the original 40 metre systems had already been delivered, so it was critical the 46-metre upgrade could be retrospectively fitted to ensure all systems within the Army’s inventory were equally capable.