UK defence secretary, John Hutton, has announced a £7m order for JCB’s High Mobility Engineering Excavators (HMEEs) for use by troops in Afghanistan.

According to JCB, the HMME provides increased levels of mobility while supplying flexible plant control capability to commanders on the ground. The vehicles are designed to clear routes ahead of soldiers and can work in long-range, high-speed operations.

Originally developed for the US army, the 60mph vehicles will be manufactured at JCB’s factory in Georgia, North America. The 16-tonne HMME combines the capabilities of the JCB backhoe loader and the JCB Fastrac agricultural tractor. It is capable of lifting more than two tonnes and can dig to a depth of almost 13ft.

The order comes as part of a £700m investment in new vehicles by the British Army. HMEEs are expected to be operational in


next year.