Environmental tests were also completed successfully to prove the bridge will remain robust and effective throughout its operational life whilst being subjected to the harsh conditions expected in military use.
The results support BAE Systems’ bid to provide a new bridge system for the British Army and other export customers. The tests were carried out using BAE Systems’ Bridge Test Facility in Telford, the most advanced facility of its kind in Europe.
The Modular Bridging System is light enough to be transported by air and strong enough to withstand the weight of a Main Battle Tank. It is used by soldiers to rapidly undertake assault crossings, restore vital lifelines and military routes, as well as offer rapid replacement of civilian infrastructure in combat and disaster relief.
In addition, numerous smaller tests were also undertaken, with over 300,000 fatigue cycles carried out on individual components. Starting with pieces of metal the size of mobile phones and scaling up to whole bridge spans, engineers at BAE Systems were able to create stronger and more robust bridges than ever before.
John Lees, BAE Systems’ Bridging Business Manager, said:
“Our 50-strong engineering team in Telford lives and breathes Bridging, supporting the British Army in this area for over 30 years and building a deep understanding of soldiers’ needs during this time.
“This project has been as much about improving techniques in manufacturing and performance as it has about testing bridges. We’ve carried out tests across even the smallest bridge components to allow us to confidently underwrite the performance of our bridges, and offer an innovative and cost-effective system that exceeds soldiers’ needs to 2040 and beyond.”
The drive for reliability
This drive for reliability has also extended into monitoring the operational use of bridges. Innovative Bluetooth-enabled sensors have been fitted to the bridge panels, analysing around 100 strain readings per second to give soldiers a more complete, real-time picture of the health of bridge systems than ever before.
The MOD is currently running a programme, TYRO, to source a replacement bridge system for BR90. BAE Systems is bidding its new Modular Bridging System to fulfil the requirement. A decision on the new system is expected in 2019.
Bridging in action
Deployment of a General Support Bridge
Automotive Bridge Launching Equipment (ABLE)
Close Support Bridge launching
General Support Bridge launching
Titan vehicle transporting a Close Support Bridge
Two-span floating bridge using pontoons
Bridging Vehicle used to transport bridging components
Tank Bridge Transporter vehicle for transporting Close Support Bridges