Capable of reaching high speeds over rough terrain as well as swimming the fastest rivers, the M3 Rig is undoubtedly the ultimate amphibian. Not only does the vehicle race around on land and water, but it lets entire armies do it too. With its deployable ballast tanks and splash shield, the M3 can go from land vehicle to high speed watercraft within just a few minutes, boasting incredible performance and manoeuvrability.
Once in the water, the 26 tonne machine faces two key issues – power and drag. To combat this, the M3 boasts two water jets (one at the front, one at the rear) and a 360 degree swivable head for power assistance, as well as wheels that can be tucked in to reduce drag. Of course, its most impressive feature is its ability to combine with one another and form a fully functioning mobile bridge. In just under 9 minutes, any number of M3s can join up and allow entire 70+ tonne tanks to cross entire rivers, before disbanding and dispersing before the enemy even has a clue they were there.
Originally developed by the German firm Eisenwerke Kaiserslautern (EWK, since 2002 acquired by General Dynamics European Land Systems), it succeeded the conceptually similar M2 made by the same company. Like its predecessor, the M3 traverses roads on its four wheels, deploying two large aluminium pontoons for buoyancy on water. Development of the M3 began in 1982, with the final prototype being delivered 10 years later in 1992. A first order of 64 serial vehicles was made in 1994, and it entered service with the German and British armies in 1996. Since then, the M3 has also been adopted by the armies of the Republic of China (Taiwan) Brazilo, Indonesia and Singapore. An upgraded version, known in some circles as the M3G, is in service with the ROC and Singapore armies. This version features an armoured cabin, NBC protection, an air conditioning system and a special tropical kit.