In June 2017, Liebherr received an order from the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) to deliver a total of 71 armoured mobile and recovery cranes worth around 150 million euros. The final two of the total of 33 type G-BKF armoured recovery cranes left the Liebherr plant in Ehingen on 10 December. The majority of the total of 38 type G-LTM armoured mobile cranes have also been delivered. The final six machines are scheduled for delivery in 2021.
Brigadier General André Denk, Commander of the Bundeswehr Logistics School, praised the project in a discussion with Dr Peter Tauber, State Secretary of the Federal Minister for Defence: “This vehicle is a prime example of what can be achieved by collaboration between the Bundeswehr, BAAIN and industry.” The Bundeswehr website contains the following: “The armoured recovery/crane vehicle takes into account the fact that the Bundeswehr fleet has become ever heavier and maintains its ability to recover and tow vehicles in the future.”
Under the contract, all 33 G-BKF recovery cranes should have been delivered by 15 November. However, when the original schedule was drawn up, nobody had even heard of Covid-19. As a result of the “force majeure” caused by the pandemic and the subsequent difficulties Liebherr experienced in production, the company requested an extension of four weeks in the delivery deadline from the BAAINBw. This was approved so that the final recovery cranes were delivered to the Bundeswehr’s material depot in Karlsruhe on schedule on 10 December.
The G-BKF from Liebherr is an armoured recovery crane on a standard four-axle mobile crane chassis. It has excellent off-road capability and great manoeuvrability. Its two recovery winches and a towing hitch at the rear enable it to rescue and tow a wide range of different vehicles such as the new generation of armoured control and command vehicles (GFF), armoured transport vehicles (GTF), MULTI FSA (swap body vehicles) and wheeled vehicles which are already in use whilst the operating personnel is being guarded. The G-BKF can be used flexibly and economically since it is equipped both to recover vehicles and to hoist loads. Its 20.9 metre telescopic boom enables the G-BKF to handle loads weighing up to 20 tonnes quickly and precisely.
Liebherr developed the armoured G-BKF recovery crane on the basis of the Bundeswehr’s specifications and the first prototype underwent intensive testing over a period of several months. This was followed by additional extensive tests by the Bundeswehr before the order was placed. The tests continued in rugged conditions even after the delivery of the first machines. The collaboration between Liebherr and the customer was very close throughout this period and was rated as exemplary by both sides.
Interactive electronic technical documentation (IETD) on a tablet was part of the order and was extremely important to the Bundeswehr. The IETD contains all the relevant information for the Bundeswehr to operate, maintain and, up to a certain level, repair the vehicles safely and on the basis of the manufacturer’s specifications. Although the specifications for preparing the IETD (under Directives S1000D™ and S2000M), which originated in the aviation industry, were completely new to Liebherr in Ehingen, they were implemented to the complete satisfaction of the customer. The Bundeswehr’s quality requirements for the vehicles and the documentation for them were reviewed on a regular basis by a Bundeswehr quality inspector and by the Bundeswehr itself in practice.