General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) announced it has agreed to provide the M3 Amphibious Bridge and Ferry System to Latvia. Latvian Land Forces will be the newest NATO customer to receive the system. The contract was awarded to GDELS by the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Detroit Arsenal, which is managing the support to Latvia as it addresses needs for additional NATO wet-gap crossing solutions. Deliveries will also include an integrated logistics support package consisting of training, tools and manuals. The M3 Amphibious Bridge and Ferry System can carry all NATO vehicles and can build a 100m (330 ft) floating bridge in less than 10 minutes.
“This procurement is another milestone marking transatlantic cooperation and the necessity of mobility and interoperability for allied forces,” said Dr. Thomas Kauffmann, vice president of international business and services for GDELS.
“We are very proud that we will deliver the latest and most modern variant of the M3 to the Latvian Armed Forces,” said Dr. Christian Kauth, vice president and managing director of GDELS-Bridge Systems. “The vehicles will also be equipped with ‘Arctic Kits’ that will allow to operate them in very cold climate conditions.”
Latvian Land Forces will become the latest country to use the M3 system, following the Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Taiwan, as well as the U.K. and Germany through its recently formed engineer M3 battalion. The M3 is used in different roles, from combat operations to civil defense. With the M3, Latvia will be able to contribute to NATO enhanced forward presence by providing allied troops mobility and interoperability with other M3 users, as well as with GDELS Improved Ribbon Bridges (IRB), which are widely used by U.S. and German forces.
The M3 Amphibious Bridge and Ferry System (Amphibious Rig) is a self-propelled, amphibious bridging vehicle that is used for the projection of tanks and other vehicles across water obstacles. 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. The M3 is self-deployable by road, operating as a 4×4 wheeled vehicle with a maximum road speed of 80 km/h. Before it is driven into the water for amphibious operation, two large aluminium pontoons are deployed, unfolding them along the length of its hull.