Since ancient times, versatile bridges have given armies a huge advantage. BAE Systems has supplied and supported the British Army’s current bridging system, BR90, for 30 years and our specialist UK-based bridging engineers continue to lead the way.
Bridging doesn’t get the same attention as tanks or artillery, but a bridge’s ability to overcome both natural and man-made obstacles gives soldiers a huge tactical advantage. Without bridging, your enemy knows where you need to put your forces and supply lines and you lose time, resources and the element of surprise.
Since ancient times, versatile bridges have given armies a huge advantage. In 55 B.C., Julius Caesar’s engineers built a 100m span bridge across the Rhine in just ten days. This allowed his army unrestricted access to territories he wanted to conquer to add to the Roman Empire. Once the job was done, his army returned and dismantled the bridge behind them, denying this advantage to potential enemies.
From Julius Caesar, through to today’s military generals, bridging remains a vital military tool. And whilst the principles of good military bridges have not changed, the advanced technology now lets us do it faster, safer and with less manpower.
BAE Systems has supplied and supported the British Army’s current bridging system, BR90, for 30 years and our specialist UK-based bridging engineers continue to lead the way. We are now competing to build the replacement to BR90 as part of the Army’s TYRO programme, which aims to provide a gap crossing capability for all tracked and wheeled vehicles until 2040.
Using our knowledge and expertise in how the Army uses bridging, we have evolved BR90 into a new Modular Bridging System. The new system includes both close support bridging, for narrower gaps in high threat environments, and general support bridging variants for wider gaps in lower threat environments.
Our 26m close support bridge will be able to be deployed in under 2 minutes and without leaving the launch vehicle – vital for keeping the crew protected when laying bridges during intense fighting. Our general support bridge can be deployed to cross gaps of over 60m in less than half an hour by ten soldiers.
We will also offer complete confidence that our Modular Bridging System will be reliable for its entire service life. We can do that because we have invested in Europe’s most advanced Bridge Test Facility, which can simulate many thousands of crossings by many different vehicle types while continuously monitoring how the bridge performs. Combined with our fatigue monitoring system that visibly measures service life, soldiers will have complete peace of mind in our bridge’s safety and effectiveness.
New design and manufacturing techniques have been selected to stop corrosion in even the harshest environments, while our comprehensive performance testing means it will do exactly what it says on the tin.
John Lees has been a defence engineer with BAE Systems and its legacy companies for over 30 years, in which time he has worked extensively on the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, new turret systems and military bridging, for which he has been leading the BAE Systems team since 2013. He has also delivered military bridging projects in the USA, where participated in the campaign to integrate a new bridge launch system on to the Abrams tank platform.